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3 charged with attempted murder make their initial court appearance

  • LAURA RUMINSKI/West Hawaii Today

    Lama Lauvao, Natisha Tautalatasi and Wesley Samoa make their initial appearance Wednesday in Kona District Court.

KEALAKEKUA — A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Friday for three suspects accused of beating a hotel security guard earlier this week.

Wesley Samoa, Lama Lauvao and Natisha Tautalatasi made their initial appearance Wednesday morning in Kona District Court.

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The three are charged with second-degree attempted murder in connection with a near-death beating at about 12:30 a.m. Monday, when they allegedly got into a verbal confrontation with a security guard while parked at Kona Seaside Hotel. According to police, the confrontation escalated into the three individuals physically assaulting the guard.

Because of the severity of his injuries, the 63-year-old victim was flown to The Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu for further treatment. As of press time Wednesday, he remained in critical condition.

During Wednesday’s hearing, defense counsel Matthew Sylva requested that the $250,000 bail be reduced for each of the defendants. Samoa, 30, of Kona addressed Judge Margaret Masunaga in this request.

Samoa asked about getting supervised release. He agreed to be on house arrest to have the ability to go to and from work.

Deputy Prosecutor Chase Murray opposed the reduction in bail and supervised release, indicating the charge is serious and, if convicted, carries a long-term punishment, which makes him a potential flight risk.

Masunaga maintained bail at $250,000 for Samoa. However, she provided conditions if he did make bail, which were to check in with the Hawaii Intake Service Center, check in with his attorney once a week and appear for all court appearances.

The judge added the condition that Samoa not go within 300 yards of Kona Seaside Hotel or the victim.

Thirty-year-old Lauvao and 41-year-old Tautalatasi also appealed to Masunaga for supervised release or a reduction in bail as they both live in Honolulu and want to continue to provide for their families as their cases move forward.

Again, the judge denied their requests and bail was maintained at $250,000. The same bail conditions applied to Samoa would be applied to Lauvao and Tautalatasi if they were to bail out.

Masunaga scheduled a preliminary hearing for each of the defendants for Friday morning.

The courtroom was filled with family in support of Samoa as well as Lauvao and Tautalatasi. The family confirmed the three defendants are relatives.

After the hearing, Samoa’s mother, Ilaisa, said her son is a loving person.

“He’s a family man,” she said. “People have their moments.”

Samoa’s mother offered a “humble heart” to the security guard and his family.

“Our heart, it’s with him and his family,” she said. “We’re praying for the victim and the family that they have peace.”

Samoa’s brother agreed that what he did was terrible. “We all know this.” He added it doesn’t mean the family won’t be there to show their love and support.

Samoa’s sister said they accept the process that he’s in, right now, so the family of the victim receives justice, too.

More details about the reported attack also were released Wednesday by the Hawaii Police Department. According to a press release, the security guard was responding to a loud noise complaint when he made contact with the three defendants as well as Mahealani Kanehailua, 33, of Kona.

The four were occupying a black SUV in the hotel’s parking lot.

According to the release, the three suspects physically assaulted the security guard, who was seated in the hotel’s security golf cart, “pulling him from the vehicle onto the parking lot driveway, where the three alternated punching and kicking him, even after it appeared he was unconscious.”

The release indicates that Kona patrol officers responded to the scene, located the four individuals and eventually arrested them.

Kanehailua was arrested on suspicion of operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

After the incident, the victim’s son posted an update about his father on Facebook: “Earlier today my Father was assaulted doing his job as a Security Guard and is currently on a ventilator. He just under went surgery on his spinal cord in hopes to prevent swelling and in the future breathe again without a ventilator. This is a hard time for our family and hope no one has to go through this.”

He asked anyone with information to provide it to police. Detective David Matsushima, who was assigned to the case. He can be reached at 326-4646, ext. 224, or at david.matsushima@hawaiicounty.gov. People also can call the department’s nonemergency line at 935-3311.

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Attempts to reach the family directly were unsuccessful as of press time Wednesday.

Email Tiffany DeMasters at tdemasters@westhawaiitoday.com.