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2 men await hate crime sentencing for attack on homeowner

<i>KITV</i><br/>The property of Christopher Kunzelman
The property of Christopher Kunzelman

By Jeremy Lee

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    MAUI, Hawaii (KITV) — While a jury in Oahu found two men guilty on hate crime charges for the attack of a white homeowner, the 4 bedroom house still sits dilapidated by the oceanside.

Nestled in the mountainside, the remote Maui village is reachable only by the twists and turns of Kahekili Highway. The property of the attack victim, Christopher Kunzelman, is reachable only through the Kaonohi family property, which is fenced off with clear signage of a private road.

It was on this road that Christopher Kunzelman was chased off in 2014 after being beaten with a shovel.

The sentence will come after both men previously admitted to the attack and were given probation by the state, with Aki being handed down a 200 day sentence. Megan Kau is a defense attorney not involved with the case.

“My opinion is that it’s rare, number one, to see the federal government charge defendants with the same facts and circumstances as the state court. And number two for the federal government to charge a hate crime,” Kau told KITV4.

In the court transcript of video from the 2014 attack, Kunzelman mentions he believes he is allowed access through easement. Kaonohi curses Kunzelman out saying the newcomer cut the lock on the gate to the private road.

The transcript also referenced language from the 2 men calling Kunzelman “whitey” and “haole” telling him “you don’t belong here,” as Kunzelman is beaten with a shovel and hospitalized.

The jury had the task of determining if the two men were motivated per the federal charge by “perceived race and color.”

Kau said of the defense that was put up, “They were upset at the way they treated them. They were upset at him cutting locks. But it seems the jury just didn’t believe that version of the story and found beyond a reasonable doubt that they were substantially motivated by race instead of all of those other factors.”

Several pieces of video were entered into evidence, including Kunzelman’s injuries. Transcript of the dialogue surrounding the attack shows Kunzelman trying to offer the men beer. But he and his relative, also working on rehabbing the newly acquired home, were chased off after the beating with the shovel.

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