Saturday, March 28, 2015


Tribune-Herald staff writer

An 18-year-old Hilo man accused of making online threats against security personnel at Kamehemeha Schools-Hawaii has been found fit to stand trial.

The trial won't take place, however, until three mental health professionals who examined Jeremy Costa are questioned by his lawyer at a hearing Jan. 31 at 2 p.m. in Hilo District Court.

"I believe there may be several issues that these doctors have missed in their analysis ... and I'd like to explore that," Costa's attorney, Ivan Van Leer, told Judge Barbara Takase Tuesday afternoon. Van Leer referred to "subsequent events" that "shed light on Mr. Costa's behaviors."

"Are you protesting the fitness or the (diminished mental) capacity issue?" the judge asked.

"The capacity to understand what he was doing at the time of the underlying events," Van Leer replied. "... I'm just not comfortable with these reports at this time."

Takase told Van Leer he'd have to subpoena the doctors who wrote the reports, psychologists Andrew Bissett and Alex Lichton and psychiatrist Samuel Paltin.

Costa, who was present and in custody, didn't disrupt proceedings as he had on a previous occasion. Handcuffed, shackled and clad in an orange Hawaii Community Correctional Center jumpsuit, he smiled at least twice and flashed a "shaka" toward the gallery.

Costa was arrested on Oct. 25 and charged with first-degree terroristic threatening, a felony
punishable by five years imprisonment. Costa, who had been expelled by Kamehameha, allegedly made threats on Facebook after having been intercepted by campus security while trying to get into the private Keaau campus the previous afternoon. The alleged threats included "rent a cops must die" and references to the 2007 Virginia Tech campus massacre.

The "subsequent events" Van Leer alluded to allegedly occurred last week. Costa was arrested on Jan. 3 for misdemeanor domestic abuse. According to court documents, the victim was James Costa, his 68-year-old father. That case is pending in Hilo Family Court.

Two days later, Costa allegedly confronted police Capt. Randall Medeiros in Waiakea Uka, challenged him to a fight and threatened to kill him. Medeiros, who was reportedly off duty and in civilian clothes, called police dispatch, and patrol officers arrested Costa.

After being taken into custody, Costa reportedly threatened Officer Gabriel Wilson. According to court documents, Costa made threats to "blow up the police station" and "shoot all you cops."

Costa was charged with first- and second-degree terroristic threatening, harassment and attempted criminal property damage, and his bail was set at $50,000.

A mental evaluation has also been ordered in that case.

Costa's parents posted a $10,000 cash bail after the alleged Kamehameha Schools threats. Takase granted Van Leer's request to discharge bail in that case and return the money to the Costas.

Email John Burnett at

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