Charges still pending for Iolani Palace vandal suspects

It’s been over a month since two vandals damaged an original glass door at Iolani Palace and the suspects are still walking free.

On February 8, Drew Paahao, 21, and Koa Keaulana, 30, were arrested for breaking into the palace. The front door was damaged, its glass more than 130 years old. The case has been turned over to the state attorney general and, at this point, there’s no word on when or if the two will be charged.

Security cameras at Iolani Palace showed Paahao and Keaulana at the scene of the crime, but the case is still under review. Security guards caught up with the couple minutes after they entered the Grand Hall and headed down to the basement.

After a court hearing for unrelated charges, KHON2 asked Paahao why she did it and she didn’t deny it, saying “”Cause that’s my house. Yeah, that’s my house.”

The lack of charges has some people angry, including palace volunteer Joan Ciampa. She wrote a scathing letter to the Attorney General’s office, saying, “I find it incomprehensible that your office requires more evidence than the palace security video.”

Kippen de Alba Chu, executive director of the palace, says many others share that feeling. “People have expressed frustration and so I think Joan put in her letter what a lot of people are thinking: Why is this taking so long and what’s going to happen?” he said.

The two suspects haven’t exactly shied away from the palace. Security guards spotted them just outside the gate near the Queen Liliuokalani statue. “They wander through this area,” de Alba Chu confirmed. “We’ve been worried that they might come back and try to do something else.”

KHON2 went to Deputy Attorney General Chris Young’s office to get some answers and was told that he was out of the office for the day. By phone, he said all he can say is that he is in the process of reviewing the case. KHON2 also spoke with a former prosecutor who says the state has no reason to rush.

“Because it’s a serious case, being that it’s Iolani Palace, you don’t want to rush to judgment,” said former prosecutor Don Pacarro.

Pacarro points out that both suspects are homeless and will be easy to find.

The palace adds that it is also waiting for an appraisal for the value of the broken glass and, if it’s determined that it was worth more than $20,000, the suspects can be charged with criminal property damage in the first degree, a Class B felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

De Alba Chu says it doesn’t matter how long it takes, as long as the vandals are punished to the full extent of the law.

Meanwhile, palace officials have packed broken glass in a crate and plan to ship it Saturday to a specialist who has studied the old European style of glasswork and repaired other previously damaged glass panels. The cost of the repair and shipping is about $11,000 and is being paid for by an anonymous donor.

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