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Alleged shooter pleads not guilty

<p>HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald</p><p>Keaka Martin makes his initial appearance in Hilo District Court after being released from Hilo Medical Center on Thursday. Martin allegedly shot two police officers on Jan. 2.</p>


Tribune-Herald staff writer

A 31-year-old Hilo man accused of shooting and wounding two police officers last week has been released from the hospital and made his initial court appearance on Friday in custody — and in a wheelchair.

Keaka Kaneiala Martin pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree attempted murder, plus second-degree reckless endangering, illegal place to keep a firearm, possessing a loaded firearm on a highway, two counts of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, prohibited ownership or possession of a firearm and altering the identification markings on a firearm.

Hilo District Judge David Kuwahara scheduled a preliminary hearing for Jan. 31 at 2 p.m. to allow Martin’s court-appointed attorney, Steve Strauss, time to go over the charges with Martin and to prepare for a hearing, should one be held. Strauss told the court that due to the severity of Martin’s injuries, he may have to be re-admitted to the hospital.

“My understanding is that there has been no bail set and we would ask for a bail setting,” Strauss told the court.

Deputy Prosecutor Glenn Shiigi urged the judge to continue Martin’s current no-bail status.

“The defendant is being held without bail; that’s been approved by a judge,” he said. “We would ask that the court continue to hold Mr. Martin without bail considering the seriousness of the offenses and the possible highest penalty available in the state of Hawaii, which is a sentence of life without parole.”

Kuwahara denied bail but granted Strauss’ request that a bail study be done.

“There’s a presumption that there’s a serious risk of flight due to the severity of the … two attempted first-degree murder charges,” Kuwahara said.

Martin said little during his court appearance, answering two questions from the judge with “yes” and “yes, sir.”

He’s accused of shooting Hilo Patrol Officers Garrett Hatada and Joshua Gouveia shortly before 9 p.m. on Jan. 2 in the parking lot of Pono Place on Kilauea Avenue, the site of the former Green Onion cocktail lounge.

Police say Martin shot himself in the chest as a law enforcement manhunt converged on an East Palai Street home where he was hiding shortly before 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 3. Martin was arrested on suspicion of two counts of attempted first-degree murder and taken to Hilo Medical Center for treatment of critical injuries. Police say a 9 mm handgun was found in the house.

The 40-year-old Hatada, a 14-year department veteran, and Gouveia, 31, who’s been on the force for four years, were hospitalized for leg wounds, but both were reportedly released from the hospital on Sunday. Police say they were wounded by 9 mm gunfire. They were investigating reports of gunfire in the area about an hour earlier, and Martin allegedly opened fire on the officers from beneath a parked vehicle.

The suspect then fled on foot, and allegedly tried to enter the nearby Hilo Lagoon Center business and condominium complex. Police reportedly identified Martin from the building’s security video and tracked him down to the East Palai Street home on a tip.

According to court documents, an eyewitness told police he saw Martin discharge six or seven rounds from a silver and black 9 mm pistol into the air while in the area of Wailoa State Park fronting 40 Maile St. prior to the police shooting. Another individual called 911 and told a dispatcher that she heard several gunshots coming from the area behind Cafe 100.

The same person who called dispatch told police she saw Martin shoot at Hatada while the officer was investigating the report of gunfire on the Pono Place property. She and another witness identified Martin through a photographic lineup, according to documents.

Martin, who has 17 prior criminal convictions but none for felonies, also faces a first-degree bail jumping charge.

County Prosecutor Mitch Roth filed an information complaint on Jan. 4, alleging that Martin failed to appear for trial on Nov. 26 on first-degree robbery and firearms charges. In a deal with prosecutors, a co-defendant in the case, 30-year-old Paul Borowski, pleaded no contest on Dec. 3 to a charge of second-degree robbery, and is set to be sentenced on Jan. 31.

According to a police spokeswoman, Borowski and Martin held up a 30-year-old Mountain View man at gunpoint on May 22 at the emergency water spigots in Mountain View Park and stole his backpack. Borowski was the one who brandished the firearm in the robbery, the spokeswoman said.

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


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