Charges filed again in dangerous driver case

A 44-year-old South Kona woman has been recharged in connection with a July 2018 hit-and-run crash in South Kona that killed a 61-year-old visitor.

Paulette Paulich is charged with first-degree negligent homicide for causing the death of Mark Brown by the operation of a vehicle in a negligent manner while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and failure to stop following an accident resulting in serious bodily injury or death to another person.

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Originally indicted in May 2019, Paulich pleaded not guilty and a jury trial bad been set for September 2019 and later continued until December 2019. However, in November, Kona Circuit Court Judge Robert D.S. Kim dismissed the case without prejudice, meaning charges could be refiled, because rule 48, the right to a speedy trial, was violated.

Charges were refiled by written complaint Wednesday, according to court records.

The charges stem from a July 16, 2018, two-vehicle crash near mile marker 88 on Highway 11 that killed Brown, a Nevada resident.

Before the crash, Brown and his son had been riding their motorcycles northbound on the highway after stopping at Manuka State Wayside Park in Ka’u, according to the Hawaii Police Department.

The son was leading the ride and watching for his father to show up behind him. When Brown didn’t, the son pulled over and saw a vehicle pass that had sustained damage and was smoking. The son then turned around and found Brown on the side of the highway.

Police investigating the crash learned that a black 2009 Cadillac sedan had also been traveling northbound on the highway when it rear-ended Brown’s northbound Harley Davidson motorcycle.

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Following the collision, police said the sedan and its operator fled from the scene. The Cadillac was located abandoned approximately a half-mile north of the collision at the intersection of Highway 11 and Lani Kona Road. Officers also learned that a single female, later identified to be Paulich, was observed walking away from the sedan.

First-degree negligent homicide and leaving the scene of an accident resulting in serious bodily injury or death are each class B felonies that carry a maximum penalty of 10 years incarceration and a fine up to $25,000, according to Hawaii Revised Statutes.

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