Witness says defendant called machete victim a demon

WAILUKU, Maui (AP) — A defendant on trial for killing a Hawaii man with a machete called the victim and his companion “demons” before he attacked, a witness testified.

Kumulipo Sylva, 24, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the March 2018 killing of 35-year-old Eduardo Alejandro Cerezo.

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Kyle Keoho testified during a trial Tuesday that Sylva threatened them with a machete at the Queen Kaahumanu Center on Maui.

Keoho said he heard Sylva say, “You guys are demons, I send them to the moon,” before striking Cerezo’s neck with the machete.

“Believe it or not, he was a demon,” Keoho said Sylva told him after the victim fell to the ground at the shopping center.

Cerezo died instantly, according to Deputy Prosecutor Carson Tani, who called the attack a “brutal slaying.”

Sylva was suffering from a mental disorder that caused him to experience delusions, said Deputy Public Defender Ben Lowenthal.

“Kumulipo Sylva walks into the bathroom at the mall and he does not see a human being,” Lowenthal said. “He does not see Alex Cerezo as a person. He sees a demon, a creature from hell.”

The jury could find Sylva guilty by reason of insanity and commit him to a hospital, Lowenthal said.

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Sylva had challenged Cerezo to a fight in a nearby parking structure earlier in the afternoon, Keoho said, explaining that they were drinking alcohol in a public bathroom when Sylva entered and attacked.

Keoho also heard Sylva talking about demons on a public bus all three men rode to the shopping center, he testified.

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