Domestic Violence Leads to Fatal Shooting

Last Wednesday night, 24-year-old Malia Kahalewai was fatally shot at Kawela Barns in a tragedy that shook Molokai. Police responded to a 911 call around 10 p.m. and found Kahalewai with a single gunshot wound to her chest. She was taken to Molokai General Hospital in critical condition, where she died, according to police.

Police arrested Kahalewai’s boyfriend, Marlin Lavoie, 33, Thursday morning after he surrendered himself. Lavoie has been charged with second degree murder and is being held on a $500,000 cash-only bail.

Lavoie shot his girlfriend of nine years with a rifle in front of their friends and children, witnesses say. According to court documents, the two had separated after a domestic violence incident on March 16, just four days before the shooting. Wednesday night, Lavoie drove from his residence in Honouliwai in east Molokai looking for Kahalewai and found her at her friend’s Kawela Barns residence.

After Lavoie spoke to her for about 30 minutes, Kahalewai walked out of the apartment and sat on a sofa on the lanai, according to the document. Lavoie followed her and they continued to talk.

“The conversation failed to resolve their differences and Lavoie became distraught,” the document states. He then retrieved a rifle from his parked car and returned, pointing the weapon at Kahalewai. “You like leave me,” he said to her, then fired a single shot at her chest, according to court documents.

Lavoie fled the scene to the east, where he later turned himself in to police.

In addition to second degree murder, Lavoie has been charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, first degree terroristic threatening, improper place to keep a loaded firearm, and two other charges. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for this week.

Lavoie has a criminal record of violence, burglary and assault, and has previously served a one-year jail sentence, according to court records. In 2008, Kahalewai had a restraining order against him.

After the March 16 incident, Lavoie had been arrested on domestic violence charges but was released after posting bail, according to police.

For some, the tragedy brings to light the importance of addressing domestic violence before it escalates.

“From now on, I hope that everyone takes all threats of violence very seriously,” said Wanette Lee, Director of Molokai’s Hale Ho`omalu, which provides services for both victims and perpetrators. “Call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 567-6888 if you have been threatened or if someone you care about has been threatened.”

“This event was heartbreaking for all of us. We are grieving for both families, and especially for the children,” added Karen Holt, Executive Director of the Molokai Community Service Council, which is home to Hale Ho`omalu services. “This will happen again unless we all pull together and have the courage to start saying ‘no’ to violence in our families.”