Hawaii Now

Hawaii House Finance Committee approves budget
HONOLULU (AP) — The state House Committee on Finance passed a nearly $23.3 billion budget for fiscal years 2014 and 2015, about $590 million shy of Gov. Neil Abercrombie's request for $23.8 billion.
Chairwoman Sylvia Luke says the committee took a cautious approach Friday despite positive revenue projections because of uncertainty cast by federal budget cuts and ongoing collective bargaining negotiations.
Abercrombie asked for $11.8 billion in fiscal 2014 and $12 billion in 2015. The committee's bill includes $11.6 billion for fiscal 2014 and $11.7 billion for fiscal 2015.
The budget meets the governor's request for at least $100 million per year to draw down the state's growing unfunded liabilities.
It does not include funding for initiatives that the Legislature is still debating, such as Abercrombie's proposed preschool program.
Former police officer convicted of assault
HONOLULU (AP) — A former Pearl Harbor base police officer has pleaded no contest to felony assault as part of a plea deal stemming from a 1992 disappearance.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports State Circuit Judge Michael Wilson on Thursday sentenced 64-year-old Jenaro Torresto to 10 years in prison and ordered him to spend at least five years in custody.
Torresto was charged in the May 1992 disappearance of 19-year-old Ruben Gallegos, who cashed checks at the Pearl Harbor Naval Base Exchange.
Gallegos was last seen being escorted from his cashier's cage by Torres.
A state jury in 2007 convicted Torresto of Gallego's murder. The conviction was overturned by the Hawaii Supreme Court.
State Attorney General David Louie says the plea agreement was reasonable because three witnesses in the case have died.
Judge sets trial date for man charged with murder
HILO, Hawaii (AP) — A 34-year-old Hilo man has been ordered to stand trial July 15 on charges of first- and second-degree murder and firearms violations.
Sean Ivan Matsumoto pleaded innocent Wednesday to killing 45-year-old Rhonda Lynn Alohalani Ahu, his girlfriend, and her mother, 74-year-old Elaine Ahu.
Police investigators say in court filings that Matsumoto on Feb. 11 called 911 and reported he had shot two people in his home.
The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports he was still on his cellphone when officers arrived. They recovered a loaded .12-gauge shotgun.
Police say two children in the home were not harmed.
Matsumoto is being held without bail at Hawaii Community Correctional Center.
Investigators trace fatal fire to wall outlet
HONOLULU (AP) — The fire that killed two people Tuesday in a Waipahu house is being blamed on a malfunctioning electrical wall outlet behind a kitchen refrigerator.
The fire killed 84-year-old Haruki Tokita and his daughter, 55-year-olld Karen Tokita.
Fifty-one-year-old Randy Tokita, a son of the elder Tokita, was taken to a hospital for observation.
Fire Capt. Terry Seelig tells the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that the department does not have the resources to analyze what went wrong with the outlet.
He says the electrical malfunction that started the fire was within the outlet and not the refrigerator.
A fire investigator found no smoke alarms in the house.
Seelig says the bodies were found in first-floor rooms where the victims usually slept.
Calif regulators reject Navy offshore training
SAN DIEGO (AP) — The California Coastal Commission has rejected a Navy explosives and sonar training program that critics said could harm endangered blue whales and other sea life.
Commissioners meeting Friday in San Diego said the Navy didn't have enough information to back up its argument that the threat to marine mammals would be negligible.
The Navy said the five-year plan contains sufficient protections but many environmentalists disagreed.
The Navy program is set to begin next January and encompasses 120,000 nautical square miles of the Pacific and includes a corridor between the state and Hawaii.
If the Navy chooses to go ahead with the training, the commission can sue in an effort to block it.



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