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Suspect in violent purse-snatching spotted on Waikiki store surveillance video

By Gregg K. Kakesako

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 07:09 p.m. HST, Mar 19, 2014



The 24-year-old Waianae man charged in connection with the death of a 52-year-old grandmother after a violent purse-snatching was spotted on a Waikiki store's surveillance video as he appeared to follow the woman toward her nearby apartment building where an assailant took her purse and threw her to the ground, according to court documents.

Josiah L. Figueroa is charged with second-degree robbery and manslaughter in the death of Jullie Stephenson. He was arrested at 5:20 p.m. Monday at his Paakea Road home. He was also charged with several contempt charges.

According to a police affidavit, surveillance video recorded at an ABC Store, 1732 Ala Moana Blvd., shows Stephenson buying an item at 9:20 p.m. on Feb. 2 and leaving the store. As the victim makes her exit, "a male is observed taking notice of Jullie and positioning himself so that she would be unaware that he was closely following her out of the store," the police affidavit said.

Both Stephenson and Figueroa leave the store and the purse-snatching incident occurs moments later 30 feet to 35 feet from the store, in front of her apartment building, Tradewinds, 1720 Ala Moana Blvd, according to a police statement.

Officer Keala Noda is credited with recognizing Figueroa as one of three men he had issued citations to on Jan. 29  for being in Waianae's Pokai Bay Beach Park after it had closed for the day. 

The two other men, who are brothers, later told police that on Feb. 2 they were with the suspect when Figueroa went into the ABC Store. Several minutes later, the suspect returned to the car carrying a purse, they said.

Figueroa is being held at Oahu Community Correctional Center unable to post bail of $500,000. His District Court preliminary hearing will be held Friday afternoon.

Manslaughter is a Class A felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison, but prosecutors could seek an extended term that could increase prison time to life.

Family members said Stephenson, a 1979 Kaiser High School graduate, had been on her way home from work as a bartender at Assagio Ristorante Italiano at Ala Moana Center and was on the steps of her condo when a man approached from behind, grabbed her purse and violently threw her to the ground. Stephenson had worked at Assagio for 12 years.

Stephenson was taken to Straub Clinic & Hospital with multiple injuries including a right hip fracture, abrasions to her forehead and elbow, and was bleeding internally. She was in a coma for three weeks and died Feb. 26.

The Honolulu Medical Examiner said death was caused by "complications following blunt force injury to the torso and right lower extremity."

After an autopsy, police reclassified the case from robbery to manslaughter.

Stephenson is survived by three children and four grandchildren.







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