comscore Hilo homicide case dropped after 3rd witness refuses to testify | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
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Hilo homicide case dropped after 3rd witness refuses to testify

HILO >> Prosecutors can refile charges in a murder case that was dismissed last week after a third witness refused to testify.

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports prosecutors have asked police to expedite forensic evidence testing in the New Year’s Day shooting death of 59-year-old Barton Bumatay.

The suspect, Eric Fontes Jr., is in jail facing unrelated drug charges.

Deputy Prosecutor Kevin Hashizaki said Friday that the state had no evidence to pursue the case without the three witnesses, whose attorneys advised them against testifying.

Prosecution witnesses were not offered immunity and invoked their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination in court.

Court-appointed attorney Cody Frenz unsuccessfully argued for the charges to be dismissed without the possibility of refiling. He said his client was prepared to offer a defense that includes alibi witnesses.

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    • No. In this case, they had to be released because the only evidence they have is testimony from two known cons. Should the evidence come back to support the case, I’m sure the charges will be brought forward again. Like similar cases prior, witnesses have suddenly disappeared. I would not be surprised if this happens again. The Big Island appears to be an easy place to get away with murder. Rarely do they solve a hard case. Most convictions are based upon perpetrators admitting to the crime. You hardly ever see a murder solved based upon good investigative forensic work.

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