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Omao man pleads not guilty to second-degree murder

    This courtesy photo shows Amby Cruz, 88, who was found on Jan. 1 with a gunshot wound to his head.

A 41-year-old man plead not guilty in connection with the death of an 88-year-old man on Kauai.

Giovanni Lictawa Corpuz of Omao entered his plea today before Chief Judge Randal Valenciano of Fifth Circuit Court. His Jan. 16 arraignment was continued to Tuesday so the court could obtain an Ilocano interpreter for Corpuz.

A grand jury recently indicted Corpuz for second-degree murder and carrying or use of a firearm in the commission of a separate felony involving the death of Amby Cruz. His trial is scheduled for April 21.

Second-degree murder carries a penalty of life in prison with the possibility of parole. The use of a firearm in the commission of a separate felony is considered a class A felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

Kauai Prosecutor Justin Kollar said Corpuz could face an enhanced penalty of life without the possibility of parole because of the victim’s age. According to state law, a defendant may be subject to an extended term of imprisonment if convicted of murder of a person 60 or older.

Corpuz is being held without bail at the Kauai Community Correctional Center.

During the early morning hours of New Year’s Day, firefighters responded to a medical call of an unresponsive male and found the victim, identified as Cruz, at his Omao home. He was taken to Wilcox Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Autopsy results determined Cruz died from a single gunshot wound to the head. It’s unknown who made the 911 call.

Cruz, who arrived on Kauai from the Philippines to work in the sugar plantation fields, retired as a mechanic after working at Lihue Plantation for more than 45 years.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Honolulu office with the help of the Taipei government detained Corpuz on Jan. 9 when he arrived in Taiwan while en route to the Philippines. He was extradited back to Hawaii on Jan. 15, according to Assistant Kauai Police Chief Roy Asher.

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