Iolani Palace vandal suspects appear in court

FILE: Drew Paahao and Koa Alii Keaulana in court.
FILE: Drew Paahao and Koa Alii Keaulana in court.

KHON2 has exclusive video of two suspects arrested for vandalizing Iolani Palace over the weekend.

Drew Paahao, 21, and Koa Alii Keaulana, 30, were arrested for criminal property damage and criminal trespassing. Paahao is accused of kicking the glass door of the palace, causing irreparable damage. They have not been charged.

Both suspects appeared in court on Monday on another legal matter, pleaded no contest to unrelated petty misdemeanor charges and were released this afternoon. When asked why she did it, Paahao responded, “Because that’s my house. Yeah, that’s my house.” Those were the same comments Paahao made when she was first arrested Saturday morning.

The glass door Paahao is accused of breaking is an original palace door that dates back more than 130 years. Palace officials say it’s heart breaking because King David Kalakaua himself went to San Francisco, met with the artist, and picked out the type of glass and the design to build Iolani Palace.

Officials recall a similar incident that happened 30 years ago, when a man threw a rock at the central glass doors and broke two of them. Because the glass was no longer being manufactured and its intricate design was etched using acid, finding someone who could come close to replicating it was difficult.

“They needed to find the right optical quality of glass and it’s a much thicker glass than you would find at a local hardware store,” said Iolani Palace docent educator Zita Cup Choy. “Then it has to be etched, engraved with the appropriate design.”

“There was a local company that tried and abandoned the project voluntarily because it was too difficult and we were able to locate another company in Pasadena, Calif.,” said Iolani Palace executive director Kippen de Alba Chu.

It took nearly four years and $15,000 to replace the two glass pieces, though it’s not yet known how much the piece that was broken over the weekend will cost. Palace officials aren’t even sure if the company that fixed the doors 30 years ago is still around.

While officials aren’t holding out hope that the two suspects will be able to pay for the damage, they do want them to pay for their crime.

“If they get off with a slap on the wrist, what signal does it send to other people?” de Alba Chu said. “Hawaiian history is not there for people to simply damage and walk away scott-free.”

First-degree criminal property damage is a Class B felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

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