Hilo man faces firearms, drug charges after police pull car over in Malama Park

  • GLEN PHILLIPS-PANUI

A 33-year old Hilo man accused of possessing a loaded handgun and more than 3 grams of methamphetamine when police pulled his car over in the parking lot of a county park is free on reduced bail.

Deputy Public Defender Zachary Wingert on Tuesday requested that Hilo District Judge Kanani Laubach reduce bail for Glen Phillips-Panui from $14,000 to $5,000, according to court minutes. Deputy Prosecutor Evans Smith had no objection, and Laubach granted Wingert’s motion.

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Phillips-Panui faces charges of illegally carrying a handgun and carrying a loaded firearm on a public roadway — both Class B felonies punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment upon conviction — plus third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug, a Class C felony with a possible five-year prison term, and two counts of illegally carrying ammunition, a misdemeanor.

Phillips-Panui was released from custody after Hawaii Bail Bonds posted a $5,000 surety bond. He was ordered to return to court at 8:30 a.m. May 26 for a preliminary hearing.

The COVID-19 pandemic is not mentioned in the court minutes, but the courts are working under a state Supreme Court order intended to reduce jail populations that states in part, “Release shall be presumed, unless the court finds that the release of the inmate would pose a significant risk to the safety of the inmate or the public.”

According to court documents filed by police, at about 3:35 p.m. May 6, patrol officers spotted a black Toyota Corolla sedan with dark tinted windows in the parking lot of Malama Park, a county facility in the Panaewa area of Hilo.

When police entered the park’s parking lot, Phillips-Panui started to leave, but was stopped by officers.

Documents state one of the patrolmen, Officer Christopher Jelsma, spotted a handgun in the driver’s side of the car, drew his own service sidearm and ordered Phillips-Panui out of the vehicle.

The handgun, according to documents, was a silver-and-black 1911-style 9 mm semi-automatic handgun with the hammer cocked, a round of ammunition chambered and a 10-round magazine fully loaded.

Documents state the firearm bore no serial number.

A search of the car allegedly turned up a green camouflage backpack with three boxes of 9 mm ammo, a baggie with 3.39 grams of powder that tested positive for crystal methamphetamine and a glass smoking pipe with residue that also tested positive for meth, documents state.

According to documents, Phillips-Panui, who has no prior felony convictions, told police he went to McDonald’s and took his food to the park to eat, then attempted to leave when he saw officers approaching.

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He also allegedly told officers he’s been smoking ice for three years and carries the firearm with him whenever he’s in the car.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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