Murder-accused refuses to give evidence

23:57, Aug 15 2014

A Porirua man defending himself against allegations that he cut a pregnant woman's throat and smashed the elbow of another with a hammer, has decided against giving evidence.

Ruka Te Pono Hemopo, 48, also known as Duane Makatea, was shot and tasered when police burst into a room of a Porirua house and allegedly saw him looming over a woman and bringing his hand down towards her.

He says the bullet, which entered the back of his shoulder, remains inside him.

Police had been responding to the call of a woman who had fled the house after being hit with a hammer.

His trial began last week.

The Crown called its last witness yesterday.

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Hemopo told a jury of eight women and four men in the High Court at Wellington today that he had decided it was not in his best interests to give evidence himself or call any witnesses.

His decision means that the trial will resume on Monday with final addresses from Crown Prosecutor Grant Burston, Hemopo, and probably the lawyer assisting the court, Val Nisbet.

Hemopo has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and a less serious alternative of wounding with intent to injure, relating to an allegation that he cut the throat of a woman at a house in Waitangirua on May 2, last year. She was about four months pregnant.

The cut has been described as "superficial" but one witness said the woman was lucky it was not deeper because it was close to the carotid artery.

Hemopo also had a throat wound. Soon after the incident he told police that it was the woman who was violent and cut his throat.

Hemopo also pleaded not guilty of wounding a second woman with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, and threatening to kill both women.

The second woman had a hammer-sized hole in one elbow and another wound on her shoulder blade.

Hemopo suggested that the other woman had wielded the hammer and caused the injuries, but both women denied it.

The women, whose names were suppressed, said Hemopo had asked them for cigarettes and got angry when they said they had none.

Some of the evidence at the trial was suppressed.

The Dominion Post