HONOLULU (AP) — A former Honolulu deputy prosecutor underwent a mental competency evaluation and was found fit to stand trial for corruption-related charges, according to recently unsealed court documents.
Katherine Kealoha's defense attorney said in a previously sealed filing that her client might be suffering from a mental disease or defect affecting her competency.
A judge Wednesday ordered some of the documents related to Kealoha's competency hearing unsealed. Details about Kealoha's medical condition and treatment remain confidential. The unsealing came in response to a motion filed by the Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest.
"The fact that there was a competency evaluation— that's a significant issue in a criminal case," said R. Brian Black, executive director of the law center. "For that to be conducted entirely in a sealed proceeding was a little surprising."
Opening statements for a trial against Kealoha and her husband, now-retired Honolulu police chief Louis Kealoha, are scheduled for April 1. The Kealohas, along with former and current officers, are accused of framing Katherine Kealoha's uncle for stealing the couple's home mailbox in an attempt to discredit him in a family financial dispute.
Katherine Kealoha is charged with bank fraud, identity theft and obstruction.
A forensic psychiatrist evaluated her in November and hearing was held the following month. During the hearing, a U.S. magistrate judge determined that Kealoha was "focused on the proceedings and did not appear distracted or disengaged." The judge concluded she wasn't suffering from a mental disease or defect and was able to properly assist in her defense.
Since the hearing, Kealoha and her pain physician brother have been indicted on charges they dealt opioids and used her position as a prosecutor to hide their crimes. Kealoha and Dr. Rudolph Puana pleaded not guilty.
Jury selection for the first trial is scheduled for March 18. The judge presiding over the trial is concerned the federal courthouse in Honolulu won't be able to accommodate nearly 400 prospective jurors. He is considering reserving an alternate venue at the Neal Blaisdell Center a few miles away, where concerts, conventions and large events are held.