Two native Hawaiian men have been found guilty of a hate crime after punching, kicking, and beating a white man with a shovel in Maui in 2014.
Kaulana Alo-Kaonohi and Levi Aki Jr. were allegedly motivated by Christopher Kunzelman’s race when the incident occurred in the Kahakuloa village, where he was in the process of renovating his recently purchased home, the New York Post reported Friday.
This week they were ordered held in jail pending their sentencing in March and face possible 10 year prison sentences.
The outlet added they were indicted by a federal grand jury in late 2020 on hate crime charges once the justice department made the decision to prosecute.
— New York Post (@nypost) November 18, 2022
Video footage of the incident caught the moment someone out of view said, “I’m hurrying up, you already hit me over the head,” to which another person replied, “Brah, stop being a little (expletive) and hurry the (expletive) up.”
In the clip, two men were seen pacing the bottom floor of the home while one of them held a shovel:
In state court, Alo-Kaonohi had already pleaded no contest to felony assault and was placed on probation, while Aki pleaded no contest to terroristic threatening and was sentenced to probation and a lengthy jail sentence, according to the Post.
“The federal trial was only to determine if they were guilty of a hate crime,” the Associated Press (AP) reported Thursday.
Kunzelman had decided to relocate to the area in early 2014 when his wife was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), KHON reported in 2019.
The outlet added that during the attack in 2014 the men also punched his disabled uncle.
He apparently decided not to shoot the men with his gun but threw it near the beach moments before he was struck with the shovel:
The defendants’ lawyers claimed it was not a hate crime because it was motivated by the victim’s attitude, the Post report stated.
“The men were upset that Kunzelman cut locks to village gates, their lawyers said. Kunzelman said he did so because residents were locking him in and out while he was fixing up his new home. He testified that he wanted to provide the village with better locks and distribute keys to residents,” the article continued.
The victim, whose family has since moved to Puerto Rico, claimed that during the beating the men said no white people would ever live there and he had the wrong skin color.
Although the comments were not heard in the video, Aki did say, “You’s a haole, eh,” a term used to describe a foreigner, especially a white foreigner. Lawyers have claimed it was not used in a derogatory manner.