Lanai man faces second-degree murder charge in beating death
Police increased a charge from manslaughter to seconddegree murder for a Lanai City man accused of repeatedly punching a 46-year-old man in the face before he died of his injuries, Assistant Chief John Jakubczak said Wednesday.
Travis Morita, 35, was charged with murder Monday following an autopsy of the victim, SioneTelua Koloi, of Lanai
City. Morita was being held at the Wailuku Police Station.
The incident occurred at 10:37 p.m. Friday when police responded to a report of a man injured during a fight at the intersection of Fraser Avenue and Kaumalapau Highway in Lanai City, Jakubczak said. Police found Koloi lying on the ground on his right side with injuries to his head and face, with his ex-girlfriend by his side.
Witnesses told police the two men argued at the rear of Morita’s residence. The argument ended when Koloi left the area, Jakubczak said. But Koloi later returned to Morita’s residence where another argument escalated into a fight.
According to witnesses, Morita gained the upper hand when he knocked Koloi to the ground, mounted him and began punching him in the face multiple times, Jakubczak said. Bystanders stopped Morita by pulling him off of Koloi.
Koloi was taken to Lanai Community Hospital in critical condition, Jakubczak said. He was pronounced dead at 11:39 p.m. as a result of his injuries.