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Charges against officer dismissed after document disappears


WAILUKU >> A criminal complaint against a former police officer was dismissed because the time limit for a speedy trial lapsed when the document went missing for months after being received at the Maui Police Department, a newspaper reported today.

Christopher Kealoha, 28, was accused of abusing his wife last November. The document in Kealoha’s case was received by the Maui Police Department in February but went missing for months before a second copy was sent and processed.

Kealoha was arraigned on Aug. 7 on allegations that he abused his wife Rachel, also a police officer with the department.

The Maui News reports that the charge was dismissed Friday because the 180-day time limit for a speedy trial had lapsed by the time Kealoha was arraigned. Second Circuit Judge Richard Bissen cited the "unusual occurrence" that led to the delay and dismissed the charge without prejudice, meaning it can be brought again.

Deputy Prosecutor Emlyn Higa said that the state would refile the charge alleging that Kealoha abused his wife at their Haiku residence on Nov. 24.

In a tape of her 911 call played in court on Friday, Rachel Kealoha says, "Chris just kicked me in the face."

Lt. Arthur Dadez, a nearly 27-year police veteran and the Wailuku Patrol District watch commander, testified that he was assigned to find the complaint against Kealoha on July 18, after an internal inquiry about whether it had been served.

When he couldn’t locate the document, he asked the prosecutor’s office to send him another copy, which he received the same day. He assigned his watch to serve the summons on Kealoha. Court records show that it was served that same day.

Police records show the original document from the prosecutor’s office was received at the Police Department’s Records Section on Feb. 1.

On Jan. 17, about a week before the complaint was filed, Rachel Kealoha had gone to the prosecutor’s office to sign a document requesting that her husband not be prosecuted. She was told that the prosecutor’s office might proceed with the charge.

Dadez said in his more than 26 years he had never seen a summons go missing. Even if it was placed in the wrong bin, it would be returned to the correct bin or sent somewhere that could be tracked.

"So how do you explain a physical document going from the prosecutor’s office to the Police Department and then totally disappearing?" Bissen asked.

"It got intercepted," Dadez said. "Somebody picked it up and made it go away."

Kealoha resigned from the department earlier this year.

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