A 26-year-old woman’s college graduation celebration with friends and family was cut short Monday when investigators for the city Prosecutor’s Office arrested her — not for committing any crime but because she is the complaining witness in a domestic violence trial scheduled to begin in state court next week.
The investigators arrested the woman at 9:30 p.m. Monday at the conclusion of Chaminade University’s commencement ceremony at the Blaisdell Arena.
The state arrested the woman because she told investigators she planned to leave the state the morning after she graduated, said city prosecutor spokesman Dave Koga.
He said Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro’s philosophy regarding domestic violence is that he will not drop any cases nor cut any plea deals.
Koga said the prosecutor filed an application for a material witness order with a state judge Monday and asked the judge to issue an arrest warrant based on what the woman had told the investigators about leaving the state before the trial. He said the judge scheduled a hearing for Tuesday and issued a $5,000 arrest warrant.
The investigators took the woman to Honolulu Police Department headquarters for booking. Police released her at 1 a.m. Tuesday after she posted bail.
Circuit Judge Richard Pollack postponed a hearing on Tuesday after the woman said she wanted to talk to her father about whether she should get a lawyer.
The woman could not be reached for comment.
According to state law, if a judge determines that a person is a material witness in a pending criminal proceeding, he can set bail to make sure the person appears in court.
Nanci Kreidman, chief executive officer of the Domestic Violence Action Center, said that in general, she opposes arresting victims to assure their testimony at trial.
"We don’t want victims to be re-victimized," Kreidman said.
The woman is the complaining witness in five of six charges against her ex-boyfriend.
She told police that her ex-boyfriend, with whom she had a five-year relationship, showed up at the apartment they shared last October and found her with another man. She said the ex-boyfriend choked her, slammed her head into a door, threatened her with kitchen knives and took away her phone when she tried to call 911.
He will be tried on charges of first-degree terroristic threatening, intentional choking, abuse of a family or household member, interfering with the reporting of a crime or emergency and criminal property damage (for allegedly stabbing a door with a knife, breaking the knife). He is facing a second terroristic threatening charge involving the other man.
The ex-boyfriend is free on supervised release pending trial, without having to post bail. Before Pollack granted him supervised release in January, he was free on his own recognizance.