Alleged bus thief makes initial court appearance
A 21-year-old Hilo man accused of stealing two county buses from the Mass Transit baseyard in Hilo made his initial appearance Wednesday on charges related to the theft of the second bus.
Hilo District Judge Peter Bresciani ordered Kawelo Nakamura to appear at 2 p.m. today for a preliminary hearing.
Nakamura is charged with first-degree theft, reckless endangering, reckless driving, driving a stolen vehicle, driving a bus without a commercial driver’s license, property damage and two counts of inattention to driving in connection with the alleged theft of the 42-passenger Hele-On bus from the East Lanikaula Street facility.
He was on supervised release for allegedly stealing the first bus, which was taken Aug. 5, and sideswiping a car on Railroad Avenue near Home Depot in Hilo before later being pulled over by police on Highway 130 near Pahoa.
Deputy Public Defender Austin Hsu called Nakamura’s bail “abnormally high” and asked the judge to grant Nakamura supervised release on the new set of charges or to reduce Nakamura’s $42,000 bail.
Bresciani replied that a report indicates Nakamura is being detained on other charges.
“What’s the story on that?” the judge asked Hsu.
“I’m not 100 percent sure … ,” Hsu replied.
“Given the seriousness of the charges, I’m reluctant to release him on supervised release or … on bail without a bail study … ,” Bresciani replied. “I’m disinclined to make that decision in a vacuum.”
Nakamura was indicted on Aug. 24 on charges relating to the first bus theft, and Acting Hilo Circuit Judge Harry Freitas on Tuesday scheduled trial for Jan. 8, 2018, and set bail at $18,000 on those charges, making Nakamura’s total bail $60,000.
Nakamura, who had visible bruising under his right eye and an abrasion to the right side of his neck, said nothing during the brief hearing, but after he was led by sheriff’s deputies to the courtroom cellblock, he could be heard yelling, “Whoo, bruddahs! Yes!”
He remains in custody in lieu of bail.
Kawelo Nakamura, left, appears Wednesday in Hilo District Court.