HILO >> A Big Island man on trial for slitting his friend’s throat testified it was self-defense, Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Tuesday.
Joel Hanalei White is charged with attempted murder. White doesn’t deny slitting Jeremy Nicholas’ throat in 2014. But he told jurors he was defending himself and his then-girlfriend.
White said he went to Nicholas’ house to pick up his girlfriend, who was asleep there. White said he and Nicholas watched sports car racing for a couple of hours. When he told Nicholas he had to go home, Nicholas became aggressive and punched him, White said.
Nicholas testified last month that his throat was slit from behind while he sat at his computer desk. Nicholas said the attack was unprovoked.
White admitted that he regularly purchased cocaine from Nicholas, a self-admitted cocaine dealer, the Hilo newspaper reported. White said he hadn’t taken any cocaine that day.
White said he was concerned for his safety and for his girlfriend because Nicholas previously told him he had hidden guns in the house.
“When he said, ‘I’m gonna kill you … that was pretty real,” White testified. “All I could think in my head was to stop him from getting a gun, ‘cause I can’t outrun a bullet.”
He said he doesn’t remember using a bladed tool to slit Nicholas’ throat or to stab him in the back.
If convicted of attempted second-degree murder, White faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison.