The first person charged with a hate crime on Oahu will rely on the insanity defense, his lawyer indicated in state court yesterday.
Thomas Fiust, 37, is facing one count of first-degree terroristic threatening, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. But the maximum penalty doubles to 10 years because the state is prosecuting it as a hate crime.
Circuit Judge Richard Perkins found Fiust mentally fit to stand trial yesterday based on the reports of three court-appointed examiners.
The examiners also said Fiust is not responsible for whatever actions that resulted in the criminal charge because he has a history of mental illness.
Fiust’s lawyer Myron Takemoto asked the court for a trial date in mid-January, at which time he said the state will not need to present witnesses because Fiust will not dispute any of the allegations against him. Fiust will rely instead on the examiners’ reports for his defense.
The state says Fiust confessed to police that he threatened his 61-year-old Waialae Nui neighbor in order to scare him.
Police said the threats were made July 13 to Aug. 8. Fiust left multiple telephone messages threatening to kill his neighbor and his family, to blow up their house and to kill all Jews, police said. When the neighbor answered the telephone and asked the caller whether he was Tommy, his neighbor for the past 25 years, Fiust told the neighbor he was no longer Tommy, but God, police said.
The state says Fiust also called his neighbor a "f—— Jew" and told him to "go back to Tel Aviv." The neighbor was so scared he left the island to get away from Fiust, the state said.
The neighbor and two family members sought and were granted temporary restraining orders against Fiust that are in effect for three years.
The state’s hate crime law has been charged in two cases since the law took effect in 2002. Both of the cases were on the Big Island and in both cases the defendants were convicted of lesser crimes.