Pot guardian receives 20 years for slaying
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Kevin Metcalfe, right, appears in court Thursday with his attorneys William Reece, left, and Vaughan Winborne Jr., center. - John Burnett/Tribune-Herald
Victim's wife: Metcalfe 'worst kind of thief'
by John Burnett
Tribune-Herald Staff Writer
Published: Friday, March 26, 2010 10:01 AM HST
An Ocean View man convicted of manslaughter for shooting and killing an intruder was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in prison.
Kevin Metcalfe, 49, also received a 20-year sentence for using a firearm in the commission of a separate felony. The terms will run concurrently.
Metcalfe shot and killed 44-year-old Larry Kuahuia at about 10:30 p.m. on May 6, 2009. Police and prosecutors said Kuahuia -- whose criminal record included five convictions for felony -burglary and two for felony theft -- was on Metcalfe's property to steal marijuana from a greenhouse.
Prosecutors had charged Metcalfe with second-degree murder for shooting Kuahuia in the back with a 12-gauge shotgun, but the jury ruled the homicide was reckless instead of intentional and returned a manslaughter verdict.
Metcalfe's attorneys, William Reece and Vaughan Winborne Jr., argued that Kuahuia charged Metcalfe with a rusty coping saw, and therefore the slaying was self-defense. They said Metcalfe had been burglarized numerous times and was living in fear, citing a police response time of nearly a half-hour from the Naalehu station to Ocean View as a factor.
"Whatever happened that night, whatever the jury, after their deliberations, found and concluded, you may disagree. ... But there's one evidence that I don't think is in dispute. Mr. Kuahuia was shot in the back," Judge Ronald Ibarra told Metcalfe in Hilo Circuit Court.
Four relatives of the slain man spoke, including Kuahuia's widow, Angela.
"I've looked in the Bible to try and find some peace and maybe some forgiveness. But I can't find any forgiveness," she said. "If I said I forgave anybody, I would be lying."
At one point, Angela Kuahuia turned toward Metcalfe, his attorneys, and his numerous supporters in the gallery, and began shouting.
"I would love to visit my husband one more time or get a phone call!" she screamed. "And don't call him 'Larry Boy,' 'cause you don't know him well enough! I hate all of you! I'm sorry; I don't like to hate."
She called Metcalfe "the worst kind of thief."
"You stole my husband, my world, my happiness! You stole everything!"
Deputy Prosecutor Rick Damerville said Metcalfe's medical marijuana certificate had lapsed when the shooting occurred.
He accused Metcalfe of lying when registering the shotgun by swearing he wasn't addicted to marijuana or using the drug unlawfully.
"He got a loaded gun, addicted to marijuana, and on the night of May 6, 2009, he had an impairment of his judgment that resulted in the unnecessary killing of a human being," Damerville said.
Winborne said 48 people submitted letters attesting to Metcalfe's helpfulness and generosity.
"It's been suggested earlier that possibly because he has a medical marijuana license ... and had medical marijuana in his house, that he is just going to go on constantly going after people," Winborne said. "The letters indicate a significantly different person."
Metcalfe, who looked downward for most of the hearing, addressed the court briefly.
"I feel really badly about what happened," he said. "An apology doesn't even come close to how I feel. ... I'd do anything to take it back. I didn't mean for anybody to die. I can tell that (Kuahuia's relatives) have really suffered and I'm really sorry for that. To ask for their forgiveness is too much."
Outside the courtroom, Tom Martin of Ocean View called Metcalfe's conviction and sentence "the grossest miscarriage of justice I've seen in 68 years."
"That son of a bitch was nothin' but a thief," he said of Kuahuia. "Me and my friends, we had him on tape a-stealin'. It doesn't matter what he was stealin'. 'Thou shalt not steal.'"
Martin said it wasn't right that Kuahuia's relatives were allowed to speak but Metcalfe's friends were not.
"I totally understand what these people are goin' through, but they should have let us up to talk, too," he said.
After the sentencing, Sharon Meech, Metcalfe's common-law wife, said Metcalfe shot Kuahuia out of fear.
"We were both really scared," she said. "I know he really does feel that he was defending his life. ... I believe the police would have helped if they could, but they couldn't, because they were too far away to help."
Angela Kuahuia said response time to the remote subdivision is no excuse, and referred to the legend of ill-tempered Texas gunslinger John Wesley Hardin.
"I think that Ocean View shouldn't be considered a Wild West town where they shoot a man just for snoring," she said. "They need to be held accountable."
E-mail John Burnett at -firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Hawaii has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country. It is an automatic 5 years to posess an illegal handgun. A clip must not have more than 10 rounds. Near impossible to get a concealed weapon permit. Once the thieves find your grow they will keep comming back until they have stolen everything.
I bet the poor bastard wishes he had a couple of rock salt loads in his gun about now. He does the community a service and is now looking at 20 years. What do you people think? Should it be legal to shoot a thief in the back while in the act of theft?