2 Hawaii men plead not guilty in 2014 Maui hate crime case

HONOLULU (AP) — Two Hawaii men each indicted with one federal count of a hate crime in the alleged beating of a white man on Maui in 2014 pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court on Tuesday.

Kaulana Alo Kaonohi and Levi Aki, Jr. entered their pleas during a telephone conference from the Federal Detention Center jail in Honolulu. A trial date has been set for March. A judge will hear arguments later this week on whether they should be released pending trial.

A U.S. grand jury indictment unsealed Friday charged Kaonohi and Aki with a hate crime after they allegedly attacked a white man who was attempting to move into their neighborhood in Kahakuloa village. They face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Court documents said the men punched, kicked and used a shovel to beat a man identified only as C.K., who was knocked unconscious. He suffered a concussion and two broken ribs, prosecutors said.

The defendants are accused of saying C.K. was in the “wrong place,” didn’t belong there and that “no white man is ever going to live in this house or neighborhood.”

Kaonohi pleaded no contest to felony assault in state court in July 2019 in the case and was sentenced to probation.

Kaonohi's and Aki's attorneys didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.