Pros­e­cu­tor: Sus­pect bragged about de­tails only killer would know

De­fense main­tains de­fen­dant has an al­ibi, not at mur­der scene

The Maui News - - FRONT PAGE - City Ed­i­tor By LILA FUJIMOTO

WAILUKU — When mur­der sus­pect Jesse Hueu bragged about killing an­other man with a base­ball bat at Ma­liko Gulch, he pro­vided in­for­ma­tion that was cor­rob­o­rated by crime scene ev­i­dence and the vic­tim’s in­juries, a deputy pros­e­cu­tor said.

Hueu gave “de­tails that only the per­son who killed Der­rick Kualaau would know,” Deputy Pros­e­cu­tor Em­lyn Higa said Thurs­day morn­ing dur­ing his open­ing state­ment in Hueu’s 2nd Cir­cuit Court mur­der trial.

Hueu, 48, of Haiku has pleaded not guilty to sec­ond-de­gree mur­der in the Dec. 11, 2014, killing.

That evening, po­lice were called to Kualaau’s one-room shack on the west side of Ma­liko Gulch af­ter a friend re­ported find­ing the 56-yearold Kualaau ly­ing in a pool of blood and not mov­ing.

Higa told ju­rors that the ev­i­dence would show that Hueu was an­gry and went to con­front Kualaau that day.

Kualaau was sit­ting in a plas­tic lawn chair on the porch of his shack when Hueu went to Kualaau’s side and hit him in the back of his head with a base­ball bat, Higa said.

“He caught Der­rick by sur­prise,” Higa said.

He said Kualaau went into con­vul­sions be­fore Hueu “hit him again on the right side of the head.”

Hueu took an 8-ball, or ¡th ounce, of metham­phetamine and a smok­ing pipe from Kualaau, then went into his shack to look for more, Higa said.

Then Hueu left, “but not be­fore hit­ting him again in the left arm and left knee with that bat,” Higa said.

A few days later, dur­ing con­ver­sa­tions with long­time friend Alex Kealoha, Hueu said he had killed Kualaau with a base­ball bat, said Higa.

“He was brag­ging about it to Alex,” Higa said.

He said po­lice had found Kualaau on the ground on his right side as if he had fallen out of a chair that was tipped over on his porch.

Vin­cent Souki, who was work­ing as a po­lice ev­i­dence spe­cial­ist, said it was rain­ing and “pitch black” when he ar­rived at the scene at 7:23 p.m. and pho­tographed Kualaau ly­ing in pool­ing blood. “He was pretty stiff, so he’d been in that po­si­tion for a while,” Souki tes­ti­fied.

“It didn’t ap­pear there was a strug­gle other than that there was blood com­ing out of his head,” Souki said.

An au­topsy showed in­juries to Kualaau’s head, arm and knee that could have been caused by a base­ball bat, Higa said.

“In­ves­ti­ga­tion of the scene showed there were no signs of a strug­gle,” Higa said. “Many things were in­tact, up­right. Plants, fur­ni­ture on the porch were not dis­turbed.

“When po­lice pro­cessed the scene, they found no drugs,” Higa said. “They found no para­pher­na­lia. They found no money — from a per­son that was known to use and traf­fic in ice, pills, mar­i­juana.”

Higa said the base­ball bat was re­cov­ered Dec. 13, 2014, in the area where Hueu re­ported dur­ing a con­ver­sa­tion with Kealoha he had thrown it. Also in the con­ver­sa­tion with Kealoha, Hueu re­ported hear­ing the bat hit a guardrail when he threw it, Higa said.

The bat was found un­der the guardrail, Higa said.

Souki tes­ti­fied that he swabbed the bat for DNA test­ing. The lab­o­ra­tory that did the test­ing re­cov­ered only par­tial DNA sam­ples be­cause of degra­da­tion, Souki said.

Re­spond­ing to a juror-sub­mit­ted ques­tion ask­ing whether any DNA ev­i­dence re­cov­ered placed Hueu at the scene, Souki said no.

Hueu has pro­vided no­tice of an al­ibi de­fense. Ac­cord­ing to the no­tice, Hueu had gone to Kualaau’s res­i­dence with two

other peo­ple the morn­ing of Dec. 11, 2014. Then Hueu was dropped off in Haiku and spent the af­ter­noon and evenings hours with three other peo­ple, ac­cord­ing to the no­tice.

De­fense at­tor­ney Richard Gronna, in his open­ing state­ment to the jury, said Kealoha has ben­e­fited by be­ing a wit­ness in the case.

“He has been out of cus­tody for the past four years,” Gronna said. “The state has given him that break be­cause of the fact of the con­fes­sion.”

Be­fore po­lice were called, two peo­ple re­ported re­ceiv­ing a phone call at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 11, 2014, from a woman who said she had found her friend Kualaau ly­ing in a pool of blood and vomit, Gronna said.

The man who re­ported find­ing Kualaau’s body a few hours later told po­lice he had rid­den his bike to Kualaau’s house at about 6 p.m. to see if Kualaau wanted to go fish­ing.

Af­ter find­ing Kualaau, the man told po­lice he be­came fright­ened and ran to tell a woman, Gronna said.

The two went to a call box, which they said was bro­ken, be­fore us­ing some­one else’s cell­phone to call 911, Gronna said.

He said the man who re­ported find­ing Kualaau didn’t tell po­lice that he went to the shack af­ter he was called by an­other man who said he had found Kualaau ly­ing in blood.

“Essen­tially, this case is go­ing to leave you with more ques­tions than an­swers,” Gronna told ju­rors. “But one an­swer you’re go­ing to have is that Mr. Hueu was not there.

“You can’t be two places at once.”

Judge Peter Cahill is pre­sid­ing over the trial, which is sched­uled to re­sume Tues­day.

The Maui News / LILA FUJIMOTO photo

Mur­der sus­pect Jesse Hueu (left) sits with his at­tor­ney, Richard Gronna, dur­ing his 2nd Cir­cuit Court trial Thurs­day. Hueu has pleaded not guilty to sec­ond-de­gree mur­der in the Dec. 11, 2014, killing of 56-year-old Der­rick Kualaau, who was found beaten at his shack at Ma­liko Gulch.

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