WAILUKU - With a deputy prosecutor calling a defendant a danger to the community, a judge Tuesday increased bail to $25,000 for a man accused of assaulting and trying to extort money from California tourists who had been hiking at Twin Falls.
Jesse Nakooka, 36, of Waiehu was in custody when he made an initial appearance Tuesday in Wailuku District Court.
He is charged with attempted second-degree extortion, second-degree assault, two counts of third-degree assault, two counts of harassment and false reporting to law enforcement.
Nakooka was arrested at Twin Falls on Sunday afternoon, after the visitors from Riverside reported that when they returned from hiking, Nakooka had set up a barbecue chicken stand to block in their vehicle, then demanded $20 to move his vehicle so they could leave, according to police. After being paid the money, Nakooka demanded more, saying he wanted $20 per person, police said.
When he didn't get the additional money, Nakooka assaulted one man with a rake, striking the victim's chest and arm "hard enough to break the rake handle," said Deputy Prosecutor John Tam. He said Nakooka punched another man in the face when he tried to calm down Nakooka, and he also assaulted two women, one of whom has cancer. One of the women reported being pushed to the ground.
"This was entirely at random," said Tam, who sought the increased bail for Nakooka.
"The allegations involve the defendant being a danger to the community, accosting some unsuspecting tourists and demanding money from them," Tam said.
Deputy Public Defender Aisha Hill asked that Nakooka be released on supervision, saying he operates a huli-huli chicken stand to support his family, including four children from ages 1 to 4. Nakooka's wife doesn't drive, and he has to take the children to doctor and dentist appointments, Hill said.
Tam said the chicken stand run by Nakooka is illegal, and he committed the alleged offenses in front of his children.
While the visitors drove to the Paia Fire Station to report being assaulted, Nakooka told police he used the rake after being almost hit by a car.
Police reported recovering the broken metal rake, which was broken at the wooden handle portion, and 11 $20 bills from Nakooka.
Judge Richard Priest granted the prosecution's request, increasing Nakooka's bail from $2,400 to $25,000.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.