Trial set in Honolii shooting

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A recently paroled murderer pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a shooting two months ago near Honolii Lookout that hospitalized a Kona man for more than a month.

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A recently paroled murderer pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a shooting two months ago near Honolii Lookout that hospitalized a Kona man for more than a month.

Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura ordered 43-year-old John Perez III to appear for trial at 9 a.m. July 18. He’s charged with attempted second-degree murder, use of a firearm in the commission of a separate felony, being a felon in possession of a firearm and carrying a firearm on a public roadway.

During a preliminary hearing March 17, 31-year-old William “Willie Boy” Holbron-Kealoha identified Perez as one of three gunmen who shot him several times at close range in the early morning hours of Jan. 31 on Kahoa Street above Honolii Beach Park on Hilo’s northern outskirts.

Holbron-Kealoha identified one of the other shooters as Scottie Yanagawa, a 29-year-old prison furlough escapee who was killed in a shootout with police on Feb. 9 in the Hilo Wal-Mart parking lot.

The third shooter, Holbron-Kealoha said, was a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt and carrying a long rifle. He didn’t know the man’s name but said his nickname was “30-30.”

Perez’s court-appointed attorney, Robert Curtis, indicated while questioning a police detective the third man was Ronald Barawis Jr., a paroled ex-con wanted by police who was shot dead by officers Feb. 5 after allegedly driving at them at the McDonald’s restaurant at Puainako Town Center in Hilo.

Perez, who was reputedly a street gang leader in Hilo in the early 1990s, was paroled Dec. 18. He was serving a life sentence for the Aug. 27, 1991, beating and strangulation death of 23-year-old Juliana “Trish” Laysa, whose body was found in a cane field above Alae Cemetery two days later.

Curtis indicated during the preliminary hearing the shooting could be connected to La Familia, a Hawaii prison gang founded in the late 1990s at Halawa Correctional Facility on Oahu. Their rivals are the United Samoan Organization, known as the “USO Family.”

Sitting in the courtroom gallery was Shannon Souza, who, according to court documents, told police detectives he and another man, Christian Alameda, were forced at gunpoint by Eric Fontes Jr. to chop up and dispose of the body of 59-year-old Barton Bumatay, who was shot to death late New Year’s Eve or early New Year’s Day at Bumatay’s Hawaiian Paradise Park home.

Souza, Alameda and another witness, Sharina Pavao, all invoked their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination during a February preliminary hearing, forcing the state to drop a murder charge against Fontes.

Perez and Souza acknowledged each other and Souza left after Perez was led out of the courtroom.

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Souza was released from custody March 24 after being jailed for violating probation.

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

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