State briefs for September 7

Ex-sailor’s rape conviction overturned

HONOLULU — The Hawaii Innocence Project says a former U.S. Navy sailor’s statutory rape conviction was overturned.

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The University of Hawaii’s law school, where the innocence project is located, announced Friday that a state Supreme Court ruling officially sets aside the conviction of Roynes Dural.

Project co-director Ken Lawson says Dural spent eight years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

Dural was charged with sex assault in 2002, accused of having sex with his ex-girlfriend’s daughter.

Officials at the innocence project say they presented evidence that convinced the Hawaii Paroling Authority to release him on early parole while his case was appealed.

Lawson says the case will go back to trial court, where prosecutors can either dismiss it or try it again.

Federal transit agency approves rapid rail plan

HONOLULU — A federal agency approved a rail recovery plan submitted by the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, officials said.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii said the Federal Transit Administration approved the proposal submitted earlier this year.

The recovery plan was submitted by the city transportation authority to demonstrate Honolulu has a workable proposal for completing the 20-mile rail line.

The line was originally estimated at $5.2 billion and supposed to be completed next year, but the transit administration now projects completion in 2026 at a cost of $9.2 billion.

The approval recognizes efforts by the city and state to improve accountability and control costs, Schatz said.

The decision clears the way for the agency to release $744 million that is part of the city’s funding grant agreement with the federal government, said Honolulu rapid transportation authority Executive Director Andrew Robbins.

UH to add Navy ROTC program

HONOLULU — U.S. Navy officials approved the creation of the first ever Navy ROTC program at the University of Hawaii, officials said.

Democratic Sens. Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz of Hawaii announced Wednesday the Navy’s decision to add the Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program.

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The program is expected to give more students a chance to earn scholarships and gain an education, Schatz said.

Funding for the program was included in the Navy’s 2019 budget, but had not been released yet.

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