One of the largest public corruption trials in the state’s history was placed in the hands of the jury this afternoon after the prosecution gave final remarks to rebut defense testimony.
The 12-person jury left the courtroom about 1:40 p.m. to begin deliberations after hearing more than a day of closing arguments and 16 days of testimony from 71 witnesses, including three who took the stand for both sides.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Orabona gave a final rebuttal argument before the jury began deliberations. He went through key points made by each of the defendants’ lawyers in an attempt to undermine their arguments.
Earlier in the day, attorneys for two of the defendants, Honolulu Police Department Lt. Derek Wayne Hahn and retired Maj. Gordon Shiraishi, gave their closing arguments.
Lawyers for the other three — retired Police Chief Louis Kealoha, his wife, former Honolulu deputy prosecutor Katherine Kealoha and officer Minh-Hung “Bobby” Nguyen – gave their closing statements Tuesday.
Because the government has the burden of proof, it had the last word before the jury began deliberations.
The five defendants are accused of conspiring to frame Gerard Puana, Katherine Kealoha’s uncle, for the alleged theft of the Kealohas’ Kahala mailbox in 2013 and then lying to federal authorities about their actions.
Prosecutors say the alleged conspiracy was meant to discredit Puana because of a 2013 lawsuit that he and his mother, Florence Puana, filed against Katherine Kealoha, accusing her of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Attorney Randall Hironaka, who represents Nguyen, went through the main evidence against his client this morning and told jurors that the government relied on key witnesses who are not credible and that the evidenced failed to prove a conspiracy.
Attorney Lars Isaacson, who represents Shiraishi, likewise called into question the strength of the government’s case, saying there was no evidence proving a conspiracy and there were legitimate, reasonable explanations to counter the prosecution’s allegations against his client.
But Orabona countered those arguments and the ones made by the other defense attorneys, asking the jury to find the defendants guilty of the charges.