Manhunt suspect wants to defend himself

  • LAURA RUMINSKI/West Hawaii Today Walter Gomes III makes his initial appearance Wednesday morning in Kona District Court.

KEALAKEKUA — A preliminary hearing is set for today for the 41-year-old Kona man suspected of shooting a woman and leading police on an 11-day manhunt last month.

Walter Gomes III of Kailua-Kona appeared shackled and in street clothes Wednesday in Kona District Court before Judge Margaret Masunaga. He faces a slew of charges in the case that kicked off March 20, when a woman showed up at Kona Community Hospital with a non-life-threatening gunshot wound to the face that resulted in a nearly two-week search before Gomes was arrested without incidence Sunday in Captain Cook.

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Gomes, according to court records, is charged with 17 offenses. That includes one count each of first-degree assault, first-degree reckless endangering, speeding 30-79 mph over posted limit, failure to stop after an accident involving damage to a vehicle or property, second-degree reckless endangering, reckless driving, unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle and third-degree promoting a dangerous drug; two counts each of disobedience to police officers, first-degree resisting an order to stop and first-degree terroristic threatening; and three firearms-related offenses.

Gomes, talking and shouting over the court throughout Wednesday’s proceedings, told Masunaga that he did not want to be represented by the Office of the Public Defender and would not allow Deputy Public Defender Matthew Sylva to speak on his behalf.

Masunaga told Gomes to fill out the required paperwork with the office to be assigned a private attorney because Sylva noted a conflict of interest connected to a possible witness in the case.

Gomes told the court his public defender in another, unrelated case was useless and that he would prefer to represent himself.

“I haven’t had a shower in four days and my civil rights have been violated,” Gomes shouted several times throughout the hearing.

Masunaga warned him to be quiet and listen to her to which he replied, “No, I won’t.”

At one point Gomes tried to leave the courtroom. Sheriff deputies escorted him back to finish proceedings.

Masunaga set bail for Gomes at $193,250.

After the initial shooting March 20, police first encountered Gomes on March 21 by Costco in Kailua-Kona. At that time, officers opened fire on him, saying he refused commands and drove at police vehicles.

Gomes was located later that day in North Kohala. Police fired their weapons at the suspect again in Hawi at the Minit Stop and Ohana Fuels and again by Hoea Road, where Gomes crashed into a police vehicle before disappearing into the North Kohala brush, evading capture until Sunday.

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Email Laura Ruminski at lruminski@westhawaiitoday.com.

Email Chelsea Jensen at cjensen@westhawaiitoday.com.

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