2 Hawaiian men convicted of hate crime for attacking white homeowner

Two Native Hawaiian men were convicted of a hate crime for attacking a white homeowner in 2014 in Maui.

On Nov. 17, a federal jury found Kaulana Alo-Kaonohi, 32, and Levi Aki, Jr., 33, guilty of their “racist attacksabout Christopher Kunzelman when he tried to move in a house he had bought in the Kahakuloa neighborhood.

According to reports, Kunzelman was moving with his wife and three children when he was harassed and threatened by residents of Kahakuloa.

On February 13, 2014, the defendants would have burst at Kunzelman’s property as he unpacked to demand that he leave. They threatened to tie him up and make him “disappear” if he did not leave the Hawaiian village.

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“You have the wrong skin color,” Alo-Kaonohi said, sliding his index finger along Kunzelman’s jaw.

Alo-Kaonohi then hit the man in the head with a roofing shovel, causing him to bleed from the back of his head. While the victim was putting away his belongings, the defendants continued to assault him.

Aki reportedly headbutted Kunzelman before hitting him in the face again with the shovel. The blows knocked the victim unconscious and caused a concussion. The defendants then continued to kick him in the side while he was unconscious, breaking two of his ribs.

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“No white man will ever live here,” one of the Maui men said during the beating.

Critical evidence of the incident was captured on Kunzelman’s car cameras.

Both men have pleaded guilty charges in state court. U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright ordered that they be taken into custody pending sentencing on March 2, 2023.

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“The jury verdict confirms that the rule of law serves to protect all people in our community from vicious assault, regardless of skin color,” said U.S. Attorney Clare E. Connors. “When people commit violent crimes against someone out of hatred for the race of the victim, the Department of Justice will ensure that they face the criminal consequences in court.”

“The FBI is committed to protecting individuals from harm because of their race,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Steven Merrill. “This case highlights our work to ensure that everyone feels safe in their own community without any fear of retaliation or violence, regardless of race.”

Hate crimes charges carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

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Image selected via Hawaii News Now

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