Shooting suspect indicted for murder

  • Brian Lee Smith

KAILUA-KONA — A grand jury indicted a Honaunau man accused of murder stemming from a shooting last month on Painted Church Road.

The indictment was filed Monday in 3rd Circuit Court. Brian Lee Smith, 49, faces charges of second-degree murder, second-degree attempted murder, first-degree attempted murder, two counts of ownership or possession (firearm) prohibited and two counts of carrying or use of firearm in the commission of a separate felony.

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Upon arriving at the scene of the June 23 shooting, Hawaii Police Department officers confirmed one person dead, a man later identified as 42-year-old Thomas Ballesteros Jr. of no permanent address.

It also was determined two other men were injured in the shooting, including the suspect, later identified as Smith. Both men left the scene before officers arrived and were later located and taken to Kona Community Hospital for treatment of non-life threatening gunshot wounds. They were later flown to The Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu for further treatment.

The second victim was since released and returned to the Big Island, according to police.

Smith, who is being detained at Oahu Community Correctional Center, was flown to Hawaii Island on Friday under the custody of state sheriff’s deputies to appear for a scheduled preliminary hearing in the case. Hawaii Police Department Officer Joel Furuto was the only person to testify during the hearing.

As the courthouse was soon to close, District Judge Margaret Masunaga granted Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Kate Deleon’s motion to continue the hearing, which was scheduled for July 23.

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Now that the indictment was issued, Deleon said, the next step is for the court to serve a warrant, which has not been done. After the warrant is served, Smith will be required to appear in 3rd Circuit Court for arraignment and plea.

Email Tiffany DeMasters at tdemasters@westhawaiitoday.com.