On July 20, 2010, Richard Doke II and Kian Rutunno called police on the island of Maui, Hawaii and reported that 51-year-old Mark Anderson had threatened to kill them with a knife unless they moved off some property that Anderson lived on and managed.
Police arrested Anderson and confiscated a folding tree saw. Officers said that when they approached, Anderson told them they should shoot him. Anderson was charged with making terroristic threats against Doke and Rutunno.
In January 2011, Anderson went on trial in Circuit Court in Maui. Doke and Rutunno testified that they were living on a property in the village of Nahiku pursuant to a work-trade agreement with a man named Allen Long. Although Doke mistakenly pointed out a juror when he was asked to identify Anderson, he testified that he had seen Anderson on the property.
Rutunno testified that she had paid Allen Long $400 to live on the property, but that Long had moved away and the property was “really trashed.” She said Doke later moved in with her.
Doke said that he and Rutunno were living on property owned by a man named Jeremiah Meyers who lived in Alaska. Doke acknowledged that squatters lived on the property and that some had lived there for two years or more without paying any rent. Doke also admitted that his initial claim to police that Anderson brandished a knife was wrong—it was a tree saw in his hand.
Doke testified that on the day of the incident, he and Rutunno had hitchhiked to the nearby village of Hana to do some shopping. According to Doke, Anderson approached and told them to move off the property and said that only Anderson was allowed to make deals that would allow people to work there in exchange for the right to live there.
Doke and Rutunno told the jury that Anderson pulled a knife and threatened to cut their heads off while they slept. Doke said he picked up a rock and Anderson walked off. They then called police.
Doke and Rutunno both denied that they had ever been told on prior occasions to vacate the property.
A police officer testified that Anderson refused to surrender when first confronted and only did so when the officer threatened to use a Taser. Anderson then tossed aside the folding tree saw and got down on the ground. The officer said that when he asked Anderson why he didn’t comply at first with orders to get on the ground, Anderson told the officer “that he wanted me to shoot him.”
After the prosecution finished presenting its evidence, the defense sought to call Dawn Lono, the off-site manager of the property where Doke, Rutunno and Anderson lived, to present evidence of how the property had been trashed and to testify that Doke and Rutunno were not authorized to live there. The judge refused to allow the testimony.
Anderson testified that there were several living units on the property and that he had been living there as the on-site property manager. One of his duties was to plant several crops to conform to agricultural zoning requirements. He said he was also supposed to keep out trespassers and oversee contractors working on the dwellings to make them available for rental.
Anderson testified that he met Rutunno in March 2010 when she came to help someone move off the property, but she never left and Doke joined her shortly after.
Anderson gave a drastically different account of what happened on the day of the incident. He said he told Doke, “You guys are trespassing. You have to leave that house,” but Doke claimed that Meyers had given them permission to live there. Anderson told the jury that he told Doke and Rutunno that Meyers was very close to calling police and having them arrested for trespassing. He testified that he then walked away and never took out his tree saw.
Anderson denied telling the police to shoot him. He said that when police approached him with guns drawn, he asked them, “What are you going to do—shoot me?”
On January 24, 2011, the jury convicted Anderson of making terroristic threats. He was sentenced to nine days in jail with credit for time served and probation for five years.
In September 2013, the Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals reversed the conviction and ordered a new trial. The court held that the trial judge had erroneously excluded the defense evidence that Doke and Rutunno were trespassers who had “made a mess” on the property—evidence that Anderson said would have shown their bias and motive to fabricate their claims against him.
The court also held that the police testimony about Anderson’s remarks during his arrest should not have been allowed into evidence because Anderson had not been given Miranda warnings.
On February 19, 2014, the prosecution dismissed the charge.
– Maurice Possley