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Hawaii Man Convicted Of Manslaughter For Machete Attack

Brian Turner/Wikimedia Commons
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WAILUKU, Hawaii — A Hawaii man was convicted of manslaughter for a fatal machete attack at a Maui shopping center against a man he said was a demon.

Kumulipo Sylva, 24, was not convicted of the original charge of second-degree murder for the March 2018 death of 35-year-old Eduardo Alejandro Cerezo, The Maui News reported Thursday.

A jury convicted Sylva Wednesday of manslaughter based on extreme mental or emotional disturbance.

Cerezo and another man were drinking alcohol in a public bathroom at the Queen Kaahumanu Center when Sylva struck Cerezo in the neck with the machete, killing him instantly, authorities said.

With no dispute that Sylva killed Cerezo, the trial focused on his mental state. Deputy Public Defender Ben Lowenthal said the homeless man was suffering from a disorder that caused delusions and asked the jury to find Sylva not guilty by reason of insanity.

Sylva testified he was "in a fog" for days and cannot remember much about the attack because his mental health medication had been stolen. He received psychiatric medication the night before at a hospital emergency room, he testified.

"The person you swung at in the bathroom, what was that person," Lowenthal asked Sylva during testimony.

"One of Satan's minions," Sylva said. "I told him, 'Tell Satan, Kumulipo sent you,' and I swung."

A psychologist and a psychiatrist testified that Sylva was substantially impaired by his mental illness and not criminally responsible.

"He saw a demon. He killed a demon. His mission is to rid the world of demons," Lowenthal said during his closing argument.

Sylva showed he knew right from wrong and could control his behavior when he testified, "That man had it coming," Deputy Prosecutor Carson Tani told jurors.

Sylva is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 24.

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