State briefs for June 28

Dozens of hammerhead pups found dead

HONOLULU — Authorities are investigating after dozens of baby hammerhead sharks were found dead near Keehi Lagoon in Honolulu.

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The state Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement opened an investigation following the discovery Tuesday morning of 50 to 100 dead shark pups piled up near La Mariana Sailing Club.

The lagoon is a known birthing location for hammerhead sharks, but it not natural for shark pups to be found on shore in large numbers, according to state officials.

The sharks might have been netted and dumped on land by a fisherman, said Andrew Rossiter, the director of the Waikiki Aquarium.

Rossiter said he has never seen so many shark pups killed at one time. The state should have tougher laws to prevent the killing, he said.

The responsibility of removing the dead sharks is with the lessee of the state property, said city spokesman Andrew Pereira.

Authorities are asking people with information about the shark deaths to contact the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Witness’s house, car burn after she gives testimony

WAILUKU, Maui — Maui police launched an arson investigation after the house and car of a witness of a deadly shooting were burned.

A blaze destroyed the Kanaio residence of Christine Mendes earlier this month — two days after she testified against Justin Namauu during a preliminary hearing.

Namauu, 42, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Dennis Pacheco, 45. He pleaded not guilty and is being detained in lieu of $2 million bail.

During the May 31 hearing, Mendes testified that Namauu shot Pacheco last month after barging into her home and seeing Pacheco inside. She was dating Namauu, but they were not in a committed relationship, she said.

Pacheco’s body was later hidden in a crevice in a bushy area. The body was recovered May 25 after Namauu guided police to the location.

Namauu is scheduled for trial in August.

The fires at Mendes’ home and car were reported to police the morning of June 2.

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No one was home at the time.

The fires are suspicious but a connection between the arson investigation and the shooting case “would be speculation” at this point, said police Lt. Gregg Okamoto said.

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