State prosecutors want teen accused in shooting near Hunter High to be tried as adult

Jan 19, 2022, 8:32 PM | Updated: 8:41 pm

Family of a Hunter High teen killed in a shooting last week is sharing how they’re feeling, after state prosecutors announced Wednesday they want the 14-year-old boy accused of shooting and killing 14-year-old Tivani Lopati and 15-year-old Paul Tahi to be tried as an adult.

The teen appeared virtually in Third District Juvenile Court Wednesday afternoon before Judge Mark W. May.

The hearing lasted less than 10 minutes, as state prosecutors told Judge May they are not ready to file charges quite yet. The goal is to have that probable cause statement ready early next week, which could give insight into what prosecutors think unfolded that led to the shooting near Hunter High School during the school’s lunch period.

15-year-old Ephraim Asiata was injured, and continues to fight for his recovery.

Prosecutors did indicate to the judge that they plan to seek transferring the suspect teen’s case to adult court, so that he can be tried as an adult.

The teen will stay in juvenile detention. At the very end of the hearing, he spoke up, appearing to get emotional as he told the judge, “Your honor, I just want you to know I’m a good kid, I really am.” He began to say, “I just…” before Judge May cut him off.

Jake Fitisemanu, the family spokesperson for Tivani’s Lopati and Maumau families, explained what they were thinking after the court hearing.

“The family is relieved that the justice system is working,” he said. “The wheels of justice are rolling, and there is a sense of relief there.”

A memorial on 4100 South in between the north and southbound lanes of Mountain View Corridor has grown to stretch the entire section of street. Cars are constantly parked along the sidewalk, as groups of people stop by to visit. Banners with messages for Paul, Tivani, and Ephraim line the fence.

“It’s still a very emotional time and the family does express a very deep sense of gratitude to everyone who has really demonstrated and expressed so much love and support,” Fitisemanu said.

Another hearing is set in a week as the families, in their grief, turn to searching for justice.

Fitisemanu explained that the family shared they want to provide the space for everyone involved in the case, and let the process move forward unimpeded. The family does not condone or endorse retaliation or anyone taking the justice system into their own hands, he said.

“The family understands that the community is grieving, that there are feelings of anger,” Fitisemanu said. “And really, we want to make sure that everyone knows in the community that the family supports the justice system, and wants to see that go through.”

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State prosecutors want teen accused in shooting near Hunter High to be tried as adult