Judge denies release for Pahoa man charged in ER stabbing incident

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald Franklin Poulsen appears Friday in Hilo District Court.

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald Franklin Poulsen appears Friday in Hilo District Court.

A Pahoa man charged with attempted murder after allegedly stabbing three people at Hilo Medical Center was denied supervised release Friday and remains in custody.

Franklin Laney Allen Poulsen, 21, is charged with attempted second-degree murder, terroristic threatening, two counts of first-degree assault and one count of third-degree assault following an incident Wednesday.

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According to police reports, Poulsen was being treated at Hilo Medical Center for an unspecified drug overdose early Wednesday morning. While receiving treatment, Poulsen reportedly attacked 25-year-old nurse Kristie Brintle, seizing her throat and choking her with his right hand and holding a knife to her throat with the other.

Brintle told police she felt “as though she was about to die, fearing for her life, and that Poulsen was going to kill her,” the report says.

Brintle received two lacerations during the altercation: a 1-inch laceration on her hand and a slightly larger cut to her forearm, sustained when she attempted to push Poulsen’s hands away.

Poulsen was separated from Brintle thanks to the efforts of security guard Don Auau and Hilo Medical Center janitor Justin Rivera. Rivera told police he observed Poulsen’s erratic behavior previously and moved to intervene when he saw him attack the nurse.

Rivera and Auau restrained Poulsen, but not before the assailant switched the knife to his right hand and stabbed Rivera four times, all on his right arm. The injuries were reported to be “serious and substantial.”

Poulsen also reportedly stabbed Auau once on his left arm during the incident, although Auau could not say which of Poulsen’s hands held the knife when he was stabbed. That injury also was found to be substantial.

Rivera described the knife as “a folding buck knife with wooden handle” and a silver-colored blade about 3 inches long.

Another security guard, Lawrence Fallau, attempted to subdue Poulsen and was allegedly punched in the face repeatedly by Poulsen. After the incident, Fallau was reported to have slight redness and swelling to his face.

Hospital spokeswoman Elena Cabatu said the facility serves nearly 50,000 emergency room patients each year. In fiscal year 2018, only seven injuries to staff from combative patients were reported, generally in the form of scratches and abrasions.

“This week’s incident involving a patient with a weapon is the first in many years of institutional memory,” Cabatu said in a statement. “While incidents of violence against staff and patients are rare, they must be taken seriously. A review of Emergency Room security procedures is underway to determine if additional measures can be put in place to enhance employee and patient safety.”

A law passed in 2018 increased the penalty for assaulting health care workers. That law, Act 147, redefined second-degree assault to include causing bodily injury to someone performing duties at a health care facility, providing home health care services or providing case management services in a hospital, home or health care provider’s office.

Previously, only assaults against emergency service providers in a hospital emergency room were classified as second-degree assault.

In Poulsen’s court appearance Friday, public defender Isaac Ickes recommended Poulsen be granted supervised release, which prosecuting attorney Leneigha Downs opposed on the grounds of the violent nature of his alleged offenses.

Judge Harry Freitas agreed with Downs and maintained Poulsen’s bail, which stands at $312,000.

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Poulsen will next appear in court April 16.

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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