AP NEWS

Hawaii man agrees to plea agreement in beating death

April 11, 2019

HONOLULU (AP) — A Hawaii man charged in the beating death of a homeless man has agreed to a plea deal and will testify against his co-defendant, a prosecutor said.

Chu Lun K. Aiona, 39, pleaded guilty in state court to the reduced charge of first-degree assault, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Wednesday.

Aiona and 36-year-old Nicholas Payne attacked 46-year-old Joey Nguyen near the Hawaii Convention Center in August 2018, police said.

Nguyen died from blunt force head injury, the Honolulu medical examiner said.

The two men kicked and punched Nguyen’s face and body for 35-40 minutes, police said.

Aiona said Nguyen committed a sexual assault and Payne claimed to have been molested as a child, a witness told police.

Payne is scheduled to stand trial on a murder charge in June, records said.

Aiona’s plea deal includes a maximum 10-year prison term and an agreement to testify against Payne, according to Deputy Prosecutor Kelsi Guerra.

The Hawaii Paroling Authority can set a higher minimum sentence for Aiona, officials said.

If he had been found guilty, Aiona would have faced life without parole because he has at least two prior felony convictions, officials said.

Aiona has felony convictions on Maui and the Big Island for drug possession, auto thefts and break-ins and criminal property damage, according to court records.

Both men were in custody in lieu of $1 million bail, authorities said.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com