Bail Maintained for Haʻikū Man Accused in Murder at Kaʻa Point
A preliminary hearing concluded today for a Haʻikū man charged with second degree murder in connection with the death of 39-year-old Michael Colby at Kaʻa Point in Kahului on March 19, 2016.
During testimony today, forensic pathologist, Dr. Stacy Simons said her autopsy on Colby determined that he died of blunt force injury to his head and neck.
According to the complaint filed by the prosecution on Monday afternoon, 24-year-old Healohaomakanaamekai Akahi Pua is accused of “intentionally or knowingly” causing Colby’s death, “in an especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel manner.”
Despite a defense request for a bail reduction to $100,000, District Court Judge Blaine Kobayashi maintained bail at $1 million saying, “The court is of the opinion that given the doctor’s testimony regarding the severity of the victim’s injuries, the number of blunt trauma injuries that were found during the autopsy, and the defendant’s admission to Detective (Ronald) Bennett concerning the number of punches that the defendant exacted on the victim especially after he had been knocked unconscious, the court does find that there is sufficient evidence to support an intentional or knowing state of mind.”
Judge Kobayashi further stated, “The court is also of the opinion that based on testimony presented, the state has produced sufficient evidence to this court to support a finding of probable cause for the charge of murder in the second degree.”
In closing arguments, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Carson Tani said there is a statement from the defendant, Akahi Pua that admitted to punching Colby unconscious and “continuing to hit him twice.” Tani said the actions are “consistent with the examination by Dr. Simons… You have consistent injuries to the face, and the forehead and the temporal areas of Mr. Colby,” Tani said.
Akahi Pua is one of two individuals arrested in the case. The other is a 16-year-old Wailuku teen who was turned over to the Sheriff’s Department after his arrest on April 29, 2016.
According to a police declaration, the teen admitted to witnessing Akahi Pua “beat Colby unconscious.”
The document supports testimony today in which Detective Bennett with the department’s Criminal Investigation Division said Akahi Pua received a phone call from a friend while he was in Walmart. Detective Bennett testified that Akahi Pua told him that Mr. Colby nearly crashed into his friend while driving in the area of Kanaha, and the two-year-old son of Akahi Pua’s friend was on that side of the vehicle when the incident occurred.
Detective Bennett said Akahi Pua told him that the friend “had to swerve off of the roadway to avoid the collision.” The vehicle described was a blue pickup truck with a camper.
Bennett testified that Akahi Pua drove to the area of Kite Beach, also known as Kaʻa Point, and parked across the street from where Colby’s truck was parked. “His friend who called him was parked behind Mr. Colby’s truck,” said the detective.
Akahi Pua and the teen who was with him went to look for the operator of the truck, according to testimony. They talked to some individuals and decided to walking back, when they observed a “glow from a phone,” which was coming from Colby.
“Akahi Pua confronts Michael Colby in the bush area and he’s telling Colby you need to come back to the road and talk to my friend. You almost ran him off the road. Him and Colby exchange words. Mr. Akahi Pua said Mr. Colby shoves him twice, and then Mr. Akahi Pua punches him and then they start to fight. They’re exchanging punches. He says he’s punching Mr. Colby (and) Mr. Colby is punching him. At some point he kicks Mr. Colby in the leg with a leg sweep and his leg kind of buckles and then Mr. Akahi Pua catches Mr. Colby with a punch,” and Detective Bennett said, “Mr. Colby is knocked unconscious.”
Detective Bennett testified that the defendant said Colby was unconscious, but making “snoring sounds” before he left the area.
Dr. Simons testified that she observed at least five impact injuries to Colby during an autopsy that resulted in a rib fracture, a jaw fracture, a laceration or abrasion to the eye, and hemorrhages to the left and right side of the head. She also testified that toxicology reports indicate that Colby had a blood alcohol level of 0.212.
According to a police declaration, the body of the victim was found at 12:36 a.m. within the shrub area west of the Kaʻa Point “Kite Beach” parking area on Amala Place. The discovery was made by a kite surfing instructor and his student who were walking on a trail to the roadway from the beach.
Police say the victim appeared to have sustained trauma to his head and a blue Ford Ranger pickup truck was found parked unattended along the road at the head of the trail with all of its windows and lights smashed. “The vehicle was in line with the unknown male who was a short distance away toward the beach,” the declaration stated.
Checks found the vehicle registered to Colby and say the victim was positively identified.
A month after the murder, friends of the victim announced a $10,000 cash reward and hotline for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person/persons responsible for the crime.
Police say the Wailuku male teen was arrested at 6:15 p.m. on Friday, April 29, 2016 and was turned over to the Sheriff’s Department. A police declaration notes that the teen learned of Colby’s death the day after the encounter when someone read about it on Maui Now.
Police also arrested Akahi Pua at 2:45 a.m. on Saturday, April 30, 2016.
Colby was described by friends as a talented watercolor artist. On his Etsy profile page, where some of his artwork was posted for sale, Colby stated that he grew up in San Diego and attended Palomar Community College, Art Center College of Design and San Diego Art Institute. His artwork included plein air, watercolor landscapes, color theory and life drawing.
In his Etsy profile, Colby stated, “Moving to Maui was one of the best decisions I have ever made. It affords me the luxury to paint some of the most beautiful diverse landscapes and people I’ve ever seen. Personal quote: ‘Taking a photo is fine, but if you spend a day gazing at it, talking to your subject, and recording it with a brush… well, you will never forget what you saw.’”
A friend tells Maui Now that he was likely there to catch the sunrise to paint at dawn. His website had a painting posted of the shoreline at Kanahā as well as other images from around the island of Maui.