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Near-fatal beating caught on camera

  • Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Sheri Lawson, front, shows a surveillance video of the beating of a hotel security guard to Judge Margaret Masunaga, police officer Hamakado and defense attorneys Ann Datta and William Reece Friday at the preliminary hearing for Wesley Samoa, Lama Lauvao and Natisha Tautalatasi charged with attempted murder. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)
  • Defendants Lama Lauvao, Natisha Tautalatasi and Wesley Samoa appear with attorneys William Reece and Ann Datta at their preliminary hearing on charges of attempted murder Friday in District Court. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

KEALAKEKUA — An assault on a hotel security guard in downtown Kona was captured on surveillance camera and viewed by the District Court judge as well as defense counselors during a preliminary hearing on Friday.

Wesley Samoa, Natisha Tautalatasi and Lama Lauvao have been charged with second-degree attempted murder in the near-fatal beating of a security guard at the Kona Seaside Hotel.

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The alleged assault occurred about 12:30 a.m. Monday. According to Hawaii Police, the defendants became involved in a verbal confrontation with the victim but it escalated into the three individuals physically assaulting the guard.

Deputy Prosecutor Sheri Lawson called Gina Morado, a victim witness counselor with the prosecutor’s office, as her first witness. The victim was identified during Morado’s testimony but West Hawaii Today doesn’t name victims.

Lawson asked Morado about whether the guard was contacted about testifying at the preliminary hearing.

Morado told the court she had reached out to the victim, however, as of Friday morning, he was on life support at The Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu.

Lynette Walker was the next to take the stand. A night auditor and front desk employee at the hotel, she testified she was working the night of the assault.

Walker told the court she observed on the hotel’s security system the victim laying in the parking lot on his back. At that point, she called 911 then went outside to ask if he was OK.

Two Hawaii Police officers testified they identified assailants in the assault from surveillance video they obtained from the hotel. Officer Matthew Taira told the court he responded to the hotel at 12:36 a.m.

When he arrived, Taira stated Lauvao, Tautalatasi and Samoa were sitting on the rockwall and had been detained. After reviewing the surveillance video, all three were taken into custody.

Based on what he saw in the video, Taira testified, Samoa, Lauvao and Tautalatasi simultaneously struck the guard multiple times. He added that he observed in the video Tautalatasi kick Kanui while he was on the ground motionless on her own, multiple times.

Lawson also called to the stand Marisa Hori, emergency room doctor at Kona Community Hospital. Hori testified that she treated the victim early Monday for a cervical spine fracture. He was later flown to Queen’s for further treatment.

Hori classified the security guard’s injuries as serious.

The only cross-examination throughout the entire hearing was by Tautalatasi’s defense counselor William Reece, who asked Hori about her certification.

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Afterward, District Court Judge Margaret Masunaga determined there was sufficient evidence to move the case to 3rd Circuit Court. An arraignment for the defendants is scheduled for Sept. 28 in Judge Melvin Fujino’s courtroom.

The defendants remain in custody at Hawaii Community Correctional Center. Bail was maintained at $250,000 each.