- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 27, 2018

WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) - Maui police have launched an arson investigation after the house and car of a witness of a deadly shooting were burned.

A blaze destroyed the Kanaio residence of Christine Mendes earlier this month - two days after she testified against Justin Namauu in a preliminary hearing, The Maui News reported Tuesday.

Namauu, 42, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Dennis Pacheco, 45. He has pleaded not guilty and is being held in jail in lieu of $2 million bail.

At the May 31 hearing, Mendes testified that Namauu shot Pacheco last month after barging into her home and seeing Pacheco inside. She had been dating Namauu, but they were not in a committed relationship, she said.

Mendes told the court that Pacheco was a “good friend,” who she had dated years ago.

After entering the bedroom, Pacheco struggled for control over Namauu’s revolver, Detective Nelson Hamilton said in court. Namauu told investigators “they fought over it, the gun went off twice and Dennis dropped to the ground,” the detective said.

Pacheco’s body was later hidden in a crevice in a bushy area. The body was recovered on May 25 after Namauu guided police to the location.

Namauu is scheduled for trial in August.

The fires at Mendes home and car were reported to police the morning of June 2. No one was home at the time.

The fires are suspicious but a connection between the arson investigation and the shooting case “would be speculation” at this point, Police Lt. Gregg Okamoto said. He declined to comment on if police had any suspects.

The newspaper’s phone call to Mendes was not returned Monday.

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Information from: The Maui News, http://www.mauinews.com

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