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State appellate court sets aside drug-trafficking conviction

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 12:28 a.m. HST, Aug 9, 2011

The Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals on Monday set aside a methamphetamine-trafficking conviction  for a man who had been found guilty of selling an ounce of ice in July 2006 to an undercover police officer.

In the unanimous decision, the appeals court ordered a new trial for Juan Castro Jr. and also set aside his maximum 20-year prison term.

The court held that Castro's rights under the state Constitution to confront witnesses were violated when recordings of telephone calls between the undercover officer and two witnesses were introduced at his trial. 

His rights were violated because the prosecution did not show that the witnesses were unavailable to testify, the appeals court said.

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