Preliminary hearings set in two lava-related court cases

  • ALLAN BARTELS
  • EDWARD WILSON

Two men arrested in unrelated incidents in areas of lower Puna inundated by lava made their initial appearances Monday in Hilo District Court.

Judge Harry Freitas ordered 50-year-old Edward Wilson of Opihikao and 62-year-old Allan Bartels of Kapoho to appear at 2 p.m. Wednesday for separate preliminary hearings.

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Wilson is charged with two counts of first-degree robbery, two counts of first-degree theft, the use of a firearm in the commission of a separate felony, second-degree criminal property damage and fourth-degree criminal property damage.

Police arrested Wilson the evening of May 30, shortly after an alleged gunpoint robbery on Kamaili Road in Leilani Estates.

According to police, Wilson was in possession of photographic equipment reportedly taken during the robbery of a 29-year-old Opihikao man and his acquaintance, a 37-year-old California man, who were there to photograph lava from the Kilauea eruption.

Another suspect who was allegedly the gunman is reportedly still at large.

Freitas maintained Wilson’s bail at $42,250.

Bartels is charged with refusing to evacuate, obstructing government operations, resisting an order to stop, reckless driving and two counts of second-degree reckless endangering after allegedly driving at a high rate of speed through a police checkpoint on Government Beach Road, just north of the “Four Corners” intersection, at about 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning. The incident occurred as an active lava flow was 50-100 feet from cutting off the roadway, police said.

According to police, two county workers attempted to flag Bartels’ van down and had to jump off the road to avoid being struck. Officers followed Bartels to a residence on Government Beach Road, where he was taken into custody.

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Freitas maintained Bartels’ bail at $3,750.

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

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