A First Circuit Court jury has convicted Manu Sorensen of manslaughter — instead of murder — in the fatal game room shooting of 31-year-old Jacob Feliciano.
It took jurors a little over a day to deliberate the fate of Sorensen, who was convicted of firing a single shot that killed Feliciano during a botched robbery on Sept. 29, 2018, at an illegal gambling house in Ala Moana.
While jurors opted for manslaughter, which carries a maximum 20-year prison term, Deputy Prosecutor Scott Bell will seek enhanced sentencing of life in prison with the possibility of parole, the same punishment as murder, at a separate trial.
“In this case, the defense was an all-or-nothing defense where they were contesting that the defendant was even the shooter,” Bell told reporters outside the courtroom following the verdict today. “There was no direct evidence as to his state of mind, what he was thinking or what he intended, the prosecution can only infer that based on the facts … the jury concluded that the defendant acted recklessly. Namely by firing the gun in the way he did, the location of the shot and the subsequent injuries he was reckless … causing the decedent’s death.”
Sorensen was on trial for murder, first-degree robbery and three firearm charges. The jury didn’t issue a verdict on the robbery charge, but also ruled against him for the illegal use of a firearm and unlawfully carrying a weapon without a license or permit.
“It is the court’s finding the defendent is dangerous to the community based on the verdict in this case,” First Circuit Judge Fa’auuga To’oto’o said in revoking his $1 million bail. “These are very serious charges. The defendant is potentially looking at life in jail here.”
The deadly shooting occurred at Gameroom Rock Za Sura at 1726 Kapiolani Blvd. Video surveillance shows Sorensen and a second suspect, Robin Paakaula, entering the illegal gambling house, where they played on machines. As they made their way toward the exit, Sorensen stepped outside of the room and kept the door slightly open while Paakaula asked the cashier for change.
When the cashier pulled out an envelope containing cash, Paakaula grabbed the envelope and a scuffle ensued. While Paakaula and the cashier struggled over the envelope, a bouncer pushed Sorensen out and locked a metal security door. From outside the door, “a single shot rang out” through the screen door, striking Feliciano, who happened to be nearby, Bell said during the trial. Feliciano died the next morning.
A separate trial for Paakaula, charged with second-degree robbery and third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug, is pending.
At the end of Sorensen’s trial, defense attorney Dana Ishibashi asked to withdraw as Sorensen’s counsel due to “major disagreements” in how the case was handled, which resulted in the two becoming “estranged.” Ishibashi did not return a call for comment.
In his only address to the court during the trial, Sorensen told the judge that Ishibashi “hasn’t done anything I asked him to do throughout this whole trial.”
Sorensen’s sentencing is scheduled for March 18.