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Tulimasealii pleads not guilty

  • University of Hawaii football player Kennedy Tulimasealii today pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor counts of assault and one count each of resisting arrest and harassment.

University of Hawaii football player Kennedy Tulimasealii today pleaded not guilty to two counts of assault, and one count each of resisting arrest and harassment.

District Court Judge Lono J. Lee assigned the case to Circuit Court for an arraignment and plea on May 23.

The assault and resisting arrest charges are misdemeanors. Harassment is a petty misdemeanor.

The charges stem from an April 12 incident involving Tulimasealii and his ex-girlfriend at a McCully Street apartment. UH football player Ka‘aumoana Gifford also was charged with resisting arrest and harassment.

“It’s all been coming one way,” Tulimasealii’s attorney Michael Green said of the charges. “We’re hearing their side of it. No one’s had a chance to talk about him and actually what happened that night. I’ve spoken to the witnesses. I know what happened in that house.”

Green said is hopes to avoid a trial, insisting the charges are “all deferrable. There’s no reason for him to have a conviction on anything.”

Gifford’s attorney Paul Cunney entered a not-guilty plea on the resisting arrest and harassment charges. Cunney then successfully petitioned to consolidate those charges with a separate charge in which Gifford is accused of leaving the scene of a car accident in March. Judge Lee agreed to move both proceedings to June 3 in District Court.

“We want to put a ribbon around the whole set of cases,” Cunney said.

Cunney said Gifford was a “Good Samaritan” when he was accused of interfering with Tulimasealii’s arrest. Police had used pepper spray to subdue Tulimasealii, who was not wearing clothes when he ran out of the McCully complex.

“All Ka‘au did was try to cover hm up because the neighbors were coming out and saw the guy there with no clothes,” Cunney said.

As for the traffic incident, Cunney said, Gifford left the scene of a fender-bender when he could not reach a financial settlement with the other driver.

Cunney said he is seeking a deferred plea in which Gifford would plead no contest but his record would be expunged if he remains trouble-free for a specific length of time.

Gifford received a waiver enabling him not to appear in court this morning. Cunney said Gifford is grieving over the recent deaths of his mother and his best friend.

Tulimasealii and Gifford are Waianae-raised defensive tackles. They have been on indefinite suspension from team-related activities since their April 12 arrests. They remain on scholarship and are permitted to attend classes.

Tulimasealii declined to comment this morning except to say he has two final examinations this week.

UH head coach Nick Rolovich declined to comment until after he consults with UH athletic director David Matlin.

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