A Circuit Court judge has set a trial date for a 37-year-old man accused in the January shooting death of a 30-year-old woman in Wahiawa.
Bernard DeCoito Jr. appeared at his arraignment before Judge Shirley Kawamura via circuit video link today from the Oahu Community Correctional Center.
An Oahu grand jury had indicted him last week, charging him with manslaughter and firearm offenses in the death of Malia Soma-Valmoja.
Deputy public defender Donovan Odo entered a not guilty plea to all of the charges on DeCoito’s behalf.
Kawamura scheduled his trial to be held in April. DeCoito remains in custody at the correctional facility in lieu of $1 million aggregate bail.
Although manslaughter is a Class A felony that carries penalties of up to 20 years in prison, DeCoito could face an extended prison term because he is considered a persistent offender who has been previously convicted of two or more felonies at different times, according to the indictment.
The deadly shooting occurred on the morning of Jan. 11 on a remote access road off of Kamehameha Highway.
A friend told police he was on the phone with Soma-Valmoja when she allegedly twice rammed the Jeep she was driving into DeCoito’s parked car. Police said the friend told officers he heard Soma-Valmoja yelling and then a noise that sounded like a gunshot.
The friend called 911 after he found Soma-Valmoja unresponsive in the driver’s seat of the Jeep with a gunshot wound to her head. She was taken in critical condition to a hospital where she was later pronounced dead.
The friend told police DeCoito and Soma-Valmoja had dated for seven months but the relationship had not been exclusive.
During the investigation, police located a witness who told detectives he heard a commotion and saw a male walk toward the Jeep with his arms extended toward the vehicle as if he was holding a gun. Police said the witness then heard a single gunshot.