Trials set for man involved in Leilani shooting incident

  • HUBBARD

KEALAKEKUA — Two trials are scheduled for a 61-year-old Leilani Estates man facing state and federal charges in connection with a 2018 shooting incident in Puna.

On Thursday morning, John William Hubbard appeared before Kona Circuit Judge Melvin Fujino to address his mental fitness.

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According to four doctors’ reports, Hubbard is fit to proceed to trial, which is scheduled for April 30.

Charges for the federal and state cases stem from a May 29 incident. Police say Hubbard threatened five people and fired multiple gunshots. The reported shooting was captured on video, which went viral on social media.

Hubbard was indicted on state charges of first-degree robbery, carrying a firearm in the commission of a separate felony, illegally carrying a handgun, two counts of first-degree reckless endangering and five counts of first-degree terroristic threatening.

Hubbard, who’s free on $195,000 bail, also is scheduled for a March 27 jury trial in U.S. District Court in Honolulu after pleading not guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm.

The federal charge stems from a 1976 felony drug conviction in Kentucky and a 1986 felony firearms conviction in Oregon.

According to court documents, Hubbard’s wife posted his bail on the condition he remain on Oahu at Mahoney Hale, a federal halfway house, except for pre-approved pretrial services. Another condition of his release is that he abide by a curfew.

Hilo Circuit judges Greg Nakamura and Henry Nakamoto recused themselves from hearing the case, perhaps because Hubbard’s wife is a state Judiciary employee in Hilo.

The reported shooting occurred during the lower East Rift Zone eruption of Kilauea volcano, which destroyed more than 700 homes in lower Puna.

One of the alleged victims, a 32-year-old man from Leilani Estates, told police that he and several acquaintances were surveying the area of his former residence that had been taken by lava when they were approached by a man, later identified as Hubbard, in a pickup truck.

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The suspect allegedly assaulted, then pointed a firearm at the victim and his group, demanding that they immediately leave the area. During the argument, Hubbard reportedly fired several gunshots from a handgun.

Email Tiffany DeMasters at tdemasters@westhawaiitoday.com.

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