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Defendant absent, guilty

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» Two jurors in the Joseph Vaimili kidnapping and threatening trial learned about Vaimili skipping out on bail before trial from news reports. Neither juror was excused from the trial. A Page A22 article yesterday said the jurors were excused after overhearing a telephone conversation about Vaimili.


An accused pimp who skipped out on bail before his trial on kidnapping, terroristic threatening and promoting prostitution is facing at least 20 years in prison if and when he is caught.

That is because his trial in Circuit Court went on without him and the jury deliberated just two hours yesterday before finding him guilty of all charges.

Trial for Joseph Vaimili, 28, was supposed to begin June 23 on charges that he restrained and beat a prostitute who worked for him in February and March 2009 and threatened her with a gun during one of the beatings.

Joseph Vaimili:
A jury needed only
two hours to convict
him of kidnapping and
promoting prostitution

He was present when the court selected a jury last month, but on the day the lawyers were to make their opening statements, Vaimili was a no-show.

Circuit Judge Randal Lee declared Vaimili had voluntarily waived his presence and ordered the trial to resume in absentia. Two jurors learned about Vaimili skipping out on bail before trial from news reports. Neither juror was excused from the trial.

Vaimili was still a no-show on June 28 when the kidnapping trial for Natasha Cambra, his girlfriend and co-defendant, started. Cambra pleaded guilty later to a lesser charge in a deal with the prosecutor.

Trial for Vaimili started Monday and ended after the lawyers presented closing arguments yesterday afternoon.

Deputy Prosecutor Megan Kau credits victim Lori Whalin’s testimony for the swift verdict.

"Her testimony was extremely compelling, sincere and credible," Kau said.

Vaimili’s lawyer, Jeffrey Arakaki, declined comment.

Whalin, 25, a mother of children ages 5 and 3, told the jury that she left her home in Rapid City, S.D., in 2008 with a friend to work as a stripper, then a prostitute in Dallas. When her first pimp, Bubba, went to prison, she was sold to another pimp, Twin, who brought her and another girl to Honolulu in January 2009 to work as prostitutes during the Pro Bowl.

She said she was able to flee from Twin with the help of employees of a Waikiki hotel where she had been staying. She said one of the employees called police.

But Whalin wound up working again as a prostitute — for Vailimi, who called himself Joe Blow — on the street and in a massage parlor before eventually calling police herself last March.

She has since returned to South Dakota.

Vaimili was free on $250,000 bail pending trial. When he failed to appear for trial, Lee issued a $250,000 cash-only warrant for his arrest. If and when he is caught, Lee has ordered Vaimili held in custody without the opportunity for bail pending sentencing.


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