Lawmakers demand answers after Maui suspect charged with second murder

Keoni Vinuya Tomas

A Kahului man has been charged in a second murder investigation.

Earlier this year, Maui police arrested Keoni Vinuya Tomas, 25, for the murder of his relative, Gail Otsuka, 61. Officers found her body in her Kahului home on Jan. 2.

Police released him as they awaited DNA results from samples sent to a laboratory operated by the Honolulu Police Department.

Then, on March 23, authorities say Tomas was arrested and charged for second-degree murder on the strength of a no bail bench warrant.

According to police, Tomas was indicted by a grand jury based on “the totality of investigation to include the DNA results.”

The Maui prosecutor’s office refused to comment.

He was transported from Maui County Correctional Center to the Wailuku police station for processing and returned without incident.

Tomas was already in custody on a second-degree murder charge for allegedly killing his mother, Kimberly Vinuya, 43, on March 9.

According to court documents, Tomas told police he and his mother had gotten into an argument and, when his mother tried to stab him, he took the knife and stabbed her.

“It’s certainly disturbing to know that somebody who was in custody was released pending further investigation only to possibly commit another murder, so that is disturbing,” said Sen. Will Espero, chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs.

KHON2 wanted to know how long DNA tests can take. “The actual test itself could probably be done in a few hours, but depending on the actual quality of the sample it may actually take some additional runs some specialized isolation methods,” said Dr. Brenda Jensen, associate professor of biology at Hawaii Pacific University.

So can something be done to speed up the process? “Well, one would like to think so and obviously the stakeholders involved, whether it’s the prosecutor or the police or other agencies, should look into where there are delays or where things are slow and if we can speed things up,” said Espero.

Espero said he would be following up with the Maui prosecutor to find out more.

Meanwhile, Maui County Council member Mike Victorino says he also wants to hear from the police department and prosecutor about these two murder cases.

“We will have a community meeting for which this kind of situation can be discussed with the police and the community to see what we can do to work together and prevent something like this from happening again,” he said.

Victorino says he will schedule the meeting sometime in May.

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