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Illinois man pleads no contest in Hilo murder

A 37-year-old Illinois man pleaded no contest Wednesday to second-degree murder for the stabbing death of a 49-year-old woman two years ago in downtown Hilo.

Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura ordered Curtis Q. Hodges to appear for sentencing at 8:30 a.m. Feb. 14, 2018.

Hodges, who is being detained without bail at Hawaii Community Correctional Center, will be sentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole. The plea deal calls for the state to recommend a 20-year minimum sentence to the Hawaii Paroling Authority.

Hodges slashed the neck of Danielle Caron on the early morning of Aug. 14, 2015, in an alcove at 76 Kamehameha Ave. fronting the Koehnen Building. Caron had been living in Pahoa but became homeless shortly before she was murdered.

Before a courtroom gallery empty except for the Tribune-Herald, Hodges answered a series of questions from the judge with a brief “yes” or “no.”

Deputy Prosecutor Shannon Kagawa told the judge if the case had gone to trial, the prosecution would have proven Hodges stabbed Caron “multiple times, resulting in her death.”

“There is video of the downtown area showing Mr. Hodges going into the area where Ms. Caron was observed going into. And he was the only one leaving the area until the body is found,” Kagawa said. “There is also evidence — DNA that was found on Mr. Hodges’ clothing that belonged to Ms. Caron.”

According to court documents, a homeless 60-year-old man reported finding Caron’s body to police.

Documents state police reviewed several surveillance videos of the area and noted the same dark-complected man loitering in the area, leaving and returning periodically starting at about 9:30 p.m. Aug. 13, 2015.

Video depicts the man, who was wearing a dark T-shirt that read “Shock the Nation” and long black basketball shorts with four horizontal pink stripes stacked in a vertical pattern running along the front of the right leg, following the woman into the alcove and leaving after eight minutes.

Police later arrested Hodges — then a recent arrival from Shiloh, Ill., about a half-hour east of St. Louis — at Hilo Bay Hostel.

Documents state he was wearing a ripped black tank top with black basketball shorts matching the same description as the ones worn by the man in the videos. Hodges had “facial swelling in the area of his lips,” according to documents. A black T-shirt with “Shock the Nation” was found draped over a bedpost in the room where Hodges was staying.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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