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Man who jumped out of car on freeway in Pearl City identified

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 5:15 p.m. HST, Feb 6, 2013

The Medical Examiner’s office has identified the 33-year-old Ewa Beach man, who jumped out a moving car Jan. 31 on the H-1 Freeway near the Waipahu offramp and was run over and killed by a passing car, as Keala Leong.

Leong was with a group of men who tried to break into a cabin at the Waianae Army Recreation Center in June 1998. Army helicopter pilot John Latchum Jr. was shot in the heart with a .22 caliber rifle. Latchum was on vacation with his wife and their two children.

Leong pled guilty to attempted burglary in exchange for prosecutors dropping a murder charge. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Two other men were convicted of murder. A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in July 2003 reversed the murder convictions on a 2-1 vote, saying U.S. District Judge Helen Gillmor made a mistake in not allowing the defense to introduce the possibility that someone else fired the shot that killed Latchum. Their sentences were later reduced to 25 years under a sentencing agreement rather than life without parole.

Police are looking for the driver of the car that hit the Leong and did not stop, following the 9:45 p.m. accident. The incident occurred as the car, driven by a woman, was traveling west on the H-1 Freeway. Leong died at the scene.

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