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Man charged in Makaha bus stop death makes court appearance

By Gregg K. Kakesako

LAST UPDATED: 1:34 p.m. HST, Apr 2, 2012

The 44-year-old man who is accused of killing a 3-year-old Makaha boy and injuring other members of his family last week made his first court appearance this morning.

Potasi Uta is charged with first-degree negligent homicide, causing accidental death or injury and driving under the influence of alcohol.

Police said speeding may also be a factor in the crash following Wednesday night's accident, in which a car allegedly driven by Uta crashed into a bus shelter fronting Makaha Beach.

District Judge Randall Shintani set Uta's preliminary hearing for Wednesday.

The Medical Examiner's Office identified the victim as Ashton Brown. Four other family members were injured — the boy's mother, 41, an 11-year-old girl, 7-year-old boy, and 5-year-old girl.

Nearly a dozen members of Uta's family attended this morning's hearing, including four of his eight children.

Esther Willets, Uta's niece, said his family wants to help the Brown family by setting up a fund at a bank to help them find housing and to cover other expenses.

"We are extremely sorry for what happened to the Brown family," Willets said.

Court records show that Uta had six prior felony convictions and six misdemeanors, including a 1986 conviction for drunken driving, car theft and criminal property damage on Maui. He was sentenced to five years in jail. In 2004 he was sentenced to a 10-year jail term for first-degree burglary and was placed on parole. He was again sent back to prison in 2008 for violating his parole.

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