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Silversword-poaching suspect faces charges

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Charges are pending against an alleged poacher of rare Haleakala silversword plants.

Haleakala National Park law enforcement rangers and Maui police Monday recovered the rare plants, ahinahina.

A park visitor photographed a woman taking the juvenile silverswords from the ground, placing them in her clothes, then leaving in a vehicle driven by another person.

Rangers found the suspect and driver in Paia town an hour later with the plants. The pair was released with charges pending against both.

Park biologists will try to replant the recovered silverswords, Haleakala National Park said in a news release.

The Haleakala silversword is federally listed as threatened and found only on the slopes of Hale­akala at altitudes above 6,900 feet.

Removing them is a federal crime.


Man charged in fatal shooting

Hawaii island police Tuesday charged a suspect in a shooting that left one man dead and one injured on Painted Church Road in South Kona.

Brian Lee Smith, 49, of Honaunau was charged with one count of first-degree attempted murder, one count of second-degree murder, one count of second-degree attempted murder and firearm charges.

Just before 3 p.m. Saturday, police responded to a call and confirmed one man had died at the scene. He has since been identified as Thomas Ballesteros Jr., 42, of no permanent address.

Police determined that two other men were injured, including the suspect, who fled the scene on a motorcycle prior to their arrival. Both men were later located and identified.

Smith remains hospitalized in Honolulu and upon release will go to the Big Island for his initial court appearance. He is currently in police custody; bail is set at $1,150,000.

The other victim remains hospitalized for non-life-threatening gunshot injuries.

Kona man charged with carjacking

A 23-year-old man has been charged with carjacking a 65-year-old man at a gas station in Kailua-Kona.

Prosecutors charged Derek I. Hanato of Kailua-Kona on Tuesday with unauthorized use of a propelled vehicle, accidents involving bodily injury, driving under the influence of an intoxicant, second-degree robbery, inattention to driving, second-degree theft, second-degree assault and first-degree criminal property damage.

His preliminary hearing is scheduled for today at Kona District Court. Hanato remains in custody in lieu of $83,000 bail.

Police said the victim, of Kailua-Kona, stopped at a gas station on Kuakini Highway at about 11:47 a.m. Sunday. He stepped out of his 2012 Honda Accord with the engine still running to clean his windshield when a man later identified as Hanato approached him, knocked him down and took his vehicle, police said.

The victim was injured in the assault.

Hanato then sped off northbound on the highway, ran a red light and broadsided an SUV on Palani Road, injuring a passenger in the SUV.

Hanato fled the scene on foot. Police said a good Samaritan followed and detained Hanato until police arrived and arrested him.


Woman dies after snorkeling incident

An 80-year-old Connecticut woman died Monday after becoming unresponsive while snorkeling off Poipu Beach on Kauai.

Police identified her Tuesday as Alicia Snakard.

At about 10:45 a.m. Monday, Snakard was snorkeling in shallow water with a woman who was part of her family’s group, police said.

Snakard was found unresponsive in the water and brought to shore by the woman. Lifeguards began CPR until firefighters and paramedics arrived and took over. She was taken to Wilcox Medical Center where she died.

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