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Hawaii News

Pandemic concerns delay federal trial for Maui men charged with hate crime

The coronavirus pandemic is delaying a trial for two Maui men charged with a hate crime for allegedly beating a white man in 2014.

The trial for Kaulana Alo Kao­nohi and Levi Aki Jr. was scheduled for July. They have pleaded not guilty.

An indictment last year charged Kaonohi and Aki with a hate crime after they allegedly attacked a white man who was attempting to move into their neighborhood in the remote village of Kahakuloa. They face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Court documents said the men punched, kicked and used a shovel to beat the man, who was knocked unconscious. He suffered a concussion and two broken ribs, prosecutors said.

The defendants are accused of saying the man was in the “wrong place,” didn’t belong there and that “no white man is ever going to live in this house or neighborhood.”

U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright said Friday that he’s concerned about Hawaii’s rising COVID-19 cases. He said more time is needed to arrange a jury selection process with safety measures, including distancing of potential jurors in the Honolulu courtroom where the trial will take place.

Defense attorneys and prosecutors didn’t object to the postponement. They said they will aim for an August trial date.

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