Kona carjacking suspect faces mental exam

  • LAURA RUMINSKI/West Hawaii Today

    Sam Alexander shows the photo he took of alleged carjacker Derek Hanato.

KAILUA-KONA — A mental evaluation was ordered Wednesday for a man suspected in a weekend carjacking despite the 23-year-old’s strong objections in court.

Derek Hanato told Kona Circuit Judge Peter Bresciani that he was “totally fit to proceed.”

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“I’m not trying to beat around the bush,” Hanato said. “I want this to be taken care of.”

Hanato is accused of stealing a car from Herbert Mores, 65, of Kailua-Kona on Sunday morning while Mores was cleaning his windshield at the Shell gas station on Kuakini Highway.

According to the Hawaii Police Department, Mores was approached by the suspect, later identified as Hanato, who knocked Mores down and forcibly took his vehicle, injuring Mores in the process. Hanato then reportedly sped off northbound, ran a red light and broadsided an SUV, which was traveling west down Palani Road.

After the collision, the suspect ran from the scene on foot. He was apprehended shortly thereafter near a car dealership by a good Samaritan who kept Hanato at the scene until officers arrived and took him into custody.

Hanato is charged with unauthorized control of a vehicle, accident involving bodily injuries, operating a vehicle while intoxicated, second-degree robbery, inattention to driving, second-degree theft, second-degree assault and first-degree criminal property damage.

Damage to Mores’ vehicle is still being appraised. However, on Wednesday, all Mores could think about was how grateful he was to the man who stopped the suspect.

“That’s why Kona still has a sense of community, because people are still willing to do things like that,” he said. “That’s one of the good things we need to keep up in Kona.”

The good Samaritan, later identified as Sam Alexander, said he was on his way to Kua Bay with his 12-year-old son when he saw the crash occur at the intersection. He knew nothing about the stolen car.

Alexander saw Hanato get out the vehicle and walk away from the scene. Initially, Alexander said he started to pursue Hanato in his truck because he thought he might be injured. He soon realized that wasn’t the case.

As he followed Hanato in his truck along Kuakini Highway, Alexander took his picture.

It was at that point that Hanato took off through the Honda dealership parking lot. Alexander got out of his truck, told his son to call 911 and pursued the 23-year-old.

Alexander eventually confronted the Kailua-Kona man in the middle of the road.

“I popped him in the face and dragged him to the ground,” Alexander said.

Alexander added that he held the suspect in a chokehold and pulled him back to the sidewalk.

“Your path to redemption is truth,” Alexander recalled telling the suspect. “Being honest is the only way you’re going to deal with this.”

During Wednesday’s hearing, Deputy Public Defender Rick Macapinlac told the court that based on previous experience with Hanato and the crime, a mental evaluation should be conducted.

“I don’t believe he’s fit to proceed and don’t think he was criminally responsible at the time of the incident,” Macapinlac said.

Bresciani granted the motion. He told Hanato he understood his desire to deal with the situation; however, the issue of the fitness to proceed needed to be resolved.

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A fitness to proceed hearing is scheduled for July 18. Bresciani maintained bail at $74,000.

Email Tiffany Demasters at tdemasters@westhawaiitoday.com.

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