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Court sustains charges in artifacts theft case

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The state appeals court upheld yesterday a state theft charge accusing a Big Island man of stealing native Hawaiian artifacts from a burial cave in 2004.

Daniel W. Taylor, 44, had pleaded guilty to a federal misdemeanor charge of trafficking in cultural artifacts taken from Kanupa Cave in Kohala. He was sentenced to an 11-month prison term in 2007.

Taylor was also charged in state court with felony theft related to the artifacts, but he asked that the charge be dismissed based on double jeopardy prohibitions that he shouldn’t be tried twice for the same offense.

Circuit Judge Glenn Hara refused to dismiss the state charge, but permitted Taylor to immediately appeal.

In a unanimous decision, a three-judge panel of the Intermediate Court of Appeals ruled that Taylor can be prosecuted by the state because the federal law against trafficking the artifacts differs from the state theft law.

The panel also ruled that double jeopardy did not apply because federal and state governments can "prosecute the same acts." The judges affirmed Hara’s ruling.

In the federal case, Taylor admitted going to the cave, removing a rock at the entrance, taking about 157 artifacts and trying to sell them.

John Carta, another Big Island man, also pleaded guilty to the federal charge of trafficking in artifacts. He was sentenced to a year in prison, but died in 2007 about a month before he was to serve his sentence.

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