Not guilty plea entered in reckless driving case

  • William Duarte IV appears in District Court earlier this month for his preliminary hearing. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

KAILUA-KONA — The 26-year-old driver of a white Kia Soul that became well-known on social media for its handler’s “erratic and dangerous” actions behind the wheel has pleaded not guilty to all charges filed in the case.

William “Willy Boy” Duarte IV pleaded not guilty May 16 to three counts first-degree resisting an order to stop; three counts reckless driving; two counts driving without a license (after having two or more prior convictions within the last five years); two counts fraudulent use of plates; and one count each second-degree reckless endangering and leaving the scene of an accident involving damage to vehicle or property.

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He entered the plea before 3rd Circuit Court Judge Melvin H. Fujino, who set trial for Sept. 3. Bail was maintained at $34,775.

The case had initially been assigned to 3rd Circuit Court Judge Robert D.S. Kim, however, Fujino heard Duarte’s arraignment and plea, according to court records.

Kim officially disqualified himself from hearing the case effective May 24. The certificate filed with the court provides no additional details or reasoning, however, it does quote the Hawaii Code of Judicial conduct that “a Judge should disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which the Judge’s impartiality might be reasonably questioned.”

Duarte was taken into police custody on May 6 when a Hawaii Police Department officer grabbing a cup of coffee saw him at the Lako Street Shell gas station.

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The white Kia Soul with heavy body damage Duarte had been reportedly driving gained notoriety starting in January as residents posted about the white subcompact SUV on social media. Dozens of posts on Big Island Popo Alert and Big Island Thieves garnered hundreds of comments on the vehicle, its driver and their location. Police were also following the postings.

The charges filed against Duarte stem from incidents that unfolded after officers attempted unsuccessfully to stop the vehicle and its driver for traffic violations on April 21 near Lako Street and twice on May 4 in Kailua Village. No officers were injured in the incidents, however, police say Duarte unintentionally struck a subsidized police vehicle as he fled.

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