HONOLULU (AP) — A jury on Thursday discovered two Native Hawaiian males responsible of a hate crime for the 2014 beating of a white man who was fixing up a home he bought of their distant Maui neighborhood.

U.S. District Choose J. Michael Seabright ordered Kaulana Alo-Kaonohi and Levi Aki Jr. detained pending sentencing scheduled for March 2, and marshals moved to handcuff the 2 males after the decision was introduced within the afternoon.

Relations and supporters wept within the courtroom and known as out to the boys: “I really like you,” and “Be good.” “God bless you daddy,” stated Alo-Kaonohi’s son Kahue, 3.

In an uncommon transfer, the U.S. Division of Justice sought to prosecute Alo-Kaonohi and Aki and secured a federal grand jury indictment in December 2020 charging every with a hate crime rely punishable by as much as 10 years in jail.

Prosecutors alleged throughout the trial in U.S. District Court docket in Honolulu that Alo-Kaonohi and Aki had been motivated by Christopher Kunzelman’s race after they punched, kicked and used a shovel to beat him in Kahakuloa village. Kunzelman was left with accidents together with a concussion, two damaged ribs and head and belly trauma, prosecutors stated.

Alo-Kaonohi beforehand pleaded no contest to felony assault in state courtroom and was sentenced to probation, whereas Aki pleaded no contest to terroristic threatening and was sentenced to probation and almost 200 days in jail. The federal trial was held individually, to find out in the event that they had been responsible of a hate crime. It’s unclear why it took so lengthy for U.S. prosecutors to pursue hate crime fees.

Native attorneys say they’ve by no means heard of the federal authorities prosecuting Native Hawaiians for hate crimes earlier than this case.

Legal professionals for Alo-Kaonohi and Aki didn’t deny the assault however stated it was not a hate crime. It was not race that sparked the assault, they stated, however Kunzelman’s entitled and disrespectful angle.

Chico Kaonohi, left, prays with Priscilla Hoʻopiʻi, middle, and Lana Vierra, proper, outdoors U.S. District Court docket in Honolulu, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022, after his Native Hawaiian son was discovered responsible of a hate crime within the 2014 beating of a white man. U.S. District Choose J. Michael Seabright ordered Kaulana Alo-Kaonohi and Levi Aki Jr. detained pending sentencing scheduled for March 2, 2023. (AP Picture/Jennifer Sinco Kelleher)

The lads had been upset that Kunzelman lower locks to village gates, their attorneys stated. Kunzelman stated he did so as a result of residents had been locking him out and in. He testified that he needed to supply the village with higher locks and distribute keys to residents.

Kunzelman testified that whereas Alo-Kaonohi and Aki beat him, they informed him no white individuals would ever reside in Kahakuloa village. Nevertheless, he acknowledged that’s not heard in video recorded throughout the assault.

Kunzelman stated he determined to take two pistols to Maui after listening to {that a} contractor he employed to do mould remediation had been assaulted when he confirmed up and after his realtor stated the close-knit group of Native Hawaiians had an issue with white individuals.

He additionally put in cameras on his automobile, which had been on throughout the assault. The automobile was parked underneath the home and recorded photographs of what was occurring downstairs, together with Aki pacing with a shovel on his shoulder. The video solely captured audio from the assault, which came about upstairs.

Legal professionals for Alo-Kaonohi an Aki informed jurors the video reveals that they didn’t use any racial slurs.

“Haole,” a Hawaiian phrase with meanings that embody international and white individual, was central to the case, highlighting multicultural Hawaii’s nuanced and sophisticated relationship with race.

At one level Aki is heard saying, “You’s a haole, eh,” utilizing a Hawaiian phrase that may imply white individual. Protection attorneys stated he didn’t use the phrase in a derogatory manner.

“It’s not a hate crime to assault any person and in the midst of it use the phrase ‘haole,’” court-appointed lawyer Lynn Panagakos stated throughout her opening assertion. She famous that Aki is part-Hawaiian and part-haole.

“‘Haole’ has a number of meanings relying on the context,” she stated. “It’s an accepted phrase.”

Megan Kau, a Native Hawaiian lawyer not concerned within the case, stated it will depend on the tone and method through which the phrase is used.

“These Native Hawaiians who reside in a secluded, very conventional group who use the time period ‘haole’ to explain individuals that aren’t from Hawaii — that’s the time period that they use,” she stated. “All of us fairly often use the time period ‘haole.’ It’s not derogatory until you employ it in a derogatory sense.”

Wiping away tears outdoors the courthouse following the decision, Alo-Kaonohi’s father, Chico Kaonohi, stated bias was not a motivation behind the assault and “‘Haole’ isn’t a racial phrase.”

“The place we come from, we’re not racial individuals,” Chico Kaonohi, stated. “It wasn’t about race.”

Attorneys for each defendants declined to remark Thursday. Prosecutors didn’t instantly reply to an e-mail looking for remark.

Kunzelman testified that he and his spouse determined to maneuver to Maui from Scottsdale, Arizona, after she was identified with a number of sclerosis. He stated his spouse beloved the island.

He stated {that a} Hawaiian lady visited him in his goals and informed him to purchase the dilapidated oceanfront home, which he and his spouse bought sight-unseen for $175,000 after coming throughout an inventory for it on-line.

Kunzelman and his household by no means received to reside within the dwelling, he testified. They now reside in Puerto Rico.

He sat within the courtroom watching as the decision was introduced. He couldn’t instantly be reached for remark afterward.

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