State prosecutors can refile criminal charges if they choose to against Gregory Farr, the Ewa Beach resident who fatally shot a Navy man who mistook Farr’s home for his own and tried to break through the front door.
Earlier this month the charges, which included manslaughter, were dismissed because Farr’s right to a speedy trial was violated in part because state prosecutors missed a deadline to submit evidence, according to court documents. In Hawaii, a case can be dismissed by the court if a trial is not commenced within six months of the charges being made.
But on Tuesday, First Circuit Judge Catherine H. Remigio cleared the way for prosecutors to refile the charges because of their severity.
The Ewa Beach townhouses where the shooting occurred have identical facades.
Remigio said she considered both the magnitude of the alleged offense and the impact of possible re-prosecution on the defendant when determining whether to allow prosecutors to pursue the case again.
Deputy Prosecutor Wayne Tashima said he has not yet decided whether the state will refile the charges, which included use of a firearm in the commission of a felony — a charge that carries a 20-year mandatory minimum sentence.
Defense attorney Marcus Landsberg said his 34-year-old client now has to live knowing that at any moment police could arrest him, starting the process all over again.
“We were hoping it would be dismissed with prejudice so we could start the process of ho’oponopono (reconciliation) between the … families,” Landberg said. “The problem with this is the case stays alive, which means they both have to continue to live with it another six months, a year — however long it takes.”
He added, “Everything starts over as if it were day one.”
The shooting occurred in April 2018 when, after a night of drinking, Navy submariner John E. Hasselbrink, 41, a chief petty officer at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam, mistook Farr’s front door for his own home in a row of Ewa Beach townhouses where every building looks identical.
Navy submariner John E. Hasselbrink was set to deploy the next day when he was killed.
Courtesy of Hasselbrink family
While Hasselbrink was bashing his shoulder against the door and clattering the knob, Farr, an Army veteran, was startled awake on the living room couch, according to court documents. It was 3:50 a.m.
Thinking the stranger at his door was an intruder, Farr instructed his girlfriend to call the police. He hollered at Hasselbrink, but there was no response, the documents said. So Farr climbed the staircase to retrieve his gun.
Afraid for his daughter’s safety and concerned that an ankle injury would prevent him from protecting her, Farr fired a single shot through his locked front door, killing Hasselbrink on his front porch.
Hasselbrink, who had orders to deploy the next day, had lived two doors down from Farr.
Prosecutors questioned whether there is evidence to clearly establish that Farr acted in self-defense. Instead, they said Farr “recklessly” ended Hasselbrink’s life.
Landsberg had said his client was “in terror” and was exercising his right to defend himself, his family and his home, according to documents.
On Tuesday, Landsberg said Farr served in the Army in Iraq and Afghanistan and was honorably discharged after he injured his ankle. Farr underwent surgery on the ankle three days before the shooting.
Farr’s foot was in a cast and he was unable to carry weight on it, which contributed to his decision to shoot through the door when Hasselbrink wouldn’t stop trying to break down the door, Landsberg said.
Farr’s decision to fire his gun was also influenced by his sudden realization that his 10-year-old daughter was asleep on a mattress near the front door that Hasselbrink was pounding on, Lansdberg said.
Farr competes in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and teaches the combat sport to youth as a means of confidence-building for anti-bullying programs, Landsberg said, and hopes to open his own dojo on Oahu.
Unable to gain employment since he was charged with manslaughter, Farr has become an active stay-at-home father while his longtime live-in girlfriend works as a schoolteacher, Landsberg said.
On Tuesday, Farr’s girlfriend wept quietly in the courtroom as she waited for the hearing to begin.
Also in the courtroom were four men in military uniform — friends of Hasselbrink.
“There’s no criminals here,” Landsberg said.
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