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Man charged in Makaha bus stop death makes court appearance

  • CRAIG T. KOJIMA/CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM
    Potasi Uta made his initial court appearance today to face charges that he drove a car that plowed into a Makaha bus shelter Wednesday night, killing a 3-year-old boy and injuring his mom and three of his siblings before leaving the scene.
  • CRAIG T. KOJIMA/CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM
    After Potasi Uta's court appearance, Azure Suesue, a niece, talked about Uta while standing with members of his family. Uta accused of driving the car that plowed into a Makaha bus shelter Wednesday night, killing a 3-year-old boy and injuring his mom and three of his siblings.
  • CRAIG T. KOJIMA/CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM
    Potasi Uta's family talked with reporters after Uta's initial appearance in District Court today. Uta is accused of driving the car that plowed into a Makaha bus shelter Wednesday night, killing a 3-year-old boy and injuring his mom and three of his siblings and then driving away from the scene.
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The 44-year-old man who is accused of killing a 3-year-old Makaha boy and injuring other members of his family last week made his first court appearance this morning.

Potasi Uta is charged with first-degree negligent homicide, causing accidental death or injury and driving under the influence of alcohol.

Police said speeding may also be a factor in the crash following Wednesday night’s accident, in which a car allegedly driven by Uta crashed into a bus shelter fronting Makaha Beach.

District Judge Randall Shintani set Uta’s preliminary hearing for Wednesday.

The Medical Examiner’s Office identified the victim as Ashton Brown. Four other family members were injured — the boy’s mother, 41, an 11-year-old girl, 7-year-old boy, and 5-year-old girl.

Nearly a dozen members of Uta’s family attended this morning’s hearing, including four of his eight children.

Esther Willets, Uta’s niece, said his family wants to help the Brown family by setting up a fund at a bank to help them find housing and to cover other expenses.

"We are extremely sorry for what happened to the Brown family," Willets said.

Court records show that Uta had six prior felony convictions and six misdemeanors, including a 1986 conviction for drunken driving, car theft and criminal property damage on Maui. He was sentenced to five years in jail. In 2004 he was sentenced to a 10-year jail term for first-degree burglary and was placed on parole. He was again sent back to prison in 2008 for violating his parole.

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