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Hawaii News

Jury rejects stiffer terms for shooter

Nelson Daranciang
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The jury that found Daniel Kahanaoi guilty of second-degree murder and first-degree burglary last week in the killing of Kailua lawyer Craig Kimsel determined yesterday that Kahanaoi should be eligible for parole.

Daniel Kahanaoi will get a chance for parole after serving a prison term for killing Kailua lawyer Craig Kimsel.

But it will be up to the sentencing judge and the Hawaii Paroling Authority to decide when Kahanaoi will be eligible.

The same Circuit Court jury that deliberated two days last week before finding Kahanaoi, 46, guilty of second-degree murder took just a half-hour to decide he does not deserve to go to prison for the rest of his life without the opportunity for parole.

Kimsel’s mother, Barbara Ankersmit, said she would have liked to have Kahanaoi face the state’s stiffest penalty when he is sentenced in September. But she said she believes the jurors worked hard in their deliberations.

The normal penalty for second-degree murder is life in prison with the opportunity for parole. However, the state sought an enhanced penalty of life in prison without parole for the public’s safety because Kahanaoi is guilty of more than one felony.

The jury found Kahanaoi guilty of second-degree murder, first-degree burglary and for using or possessing a firearm for each of the two crimes. But the jurors did not find that Kahanaoi poses such a danger to the public that he deserves enhanced penalties.

Kahanaoi’s older sister, Kathleen Papalimu, told the jurors in the penalty phase of the trial yesterday that her brother is a "kind, fair, tolerant" person who "helps people—unlovable people, unwanted people."

Joseph Kahanaoi Jr. said his younger brother is "a good person, likes to help people, cares about people, especially children."

Both of Daniel Kahanaoi’s older siblings said their brother can learn from his mistakes to become a better person.

The jurors did not hear that a grand jury returned an indictment charging Kahanaoi with using a firearm to threaten four of his neighbors in Waimanalo 11 days before he shot Kimsel. They also did not hear that police arrested Kahanaoi for attempted murder in February for allegedly stabbing a prison guard at Oahu Community Correctional Center.

The indictment and alleged stabbing happened after the state filed papers in court for enhanced sentences based on Kahanaoi committing multiple crimes in the Kimsel shooting.

Deputy Prosecutor Jeen Kwak said she will ask the judge to sentence Kahanaoi to back-to-back prison terms for each of the crimes of which the jury found him guilty. That means life with parole for the murder, plus up to 10 years for the burglary and 20 years each for the two firearm charges.

Circuit Judge Glenn Kim could decide instead to have Kahanaoi serve all prison terms at the same time.

Whether the prison terms are consecutive or concurrent, the parole board will set the minimum amount of time Kahanaoi must serve before he is eligible for parole. But he must serve at least 20 years for the murder and 10 years for the burglary, according to state sentencing laws, because he used or possessed a semiautomatic firearm for both crimes.

Kahanaoi went to Kimsel’s Oneawa Street home April 28, 2009, looking for his girlfriend, who was hiding in Kimsel’s bedroom.

A witness said Kahanaoi shot Kimsel in the neck as the lawyer was turning away and in the back as Kimsel was lying face-down on the floor.

Kahanaoi said the first shot went off by accident and that he fired the second one in self-defense.


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