MELBOURNE, Australia — Nineteen-year-old Nate Hakiwai knew he was about to black out when he rang his father to say he and his 17-year-old brother Maaka Hakiwai had just been stabbed.

Hakiwai has given evidence in the murder trial of Joshua Horton, 19, who has been accused of murdering Maaka at Kings Park, a suburb 26 km (16 miles) north-west from Australia’s most livable city Melbourne’s Central Business District in the state of Victoria, in September 2019.

“We were waiting at a bus stop near [our] house on way to the gym when a car pulled up and two strangers got out,” Hakiwai told Victoria’s Supreme Court on March 16.

“They appeared to make small talk,” Hakiwai said, and then offered to sell them marijuana.

But he said the mood became hostile after one of them demanded a Philadelphia 76ers baseball cap he was wearing. “I knew something was about to happen,” Hakiwai told the court.

A fight broke out after one of the two strangers grabbed Hakiwai’s cap. Hakiwai said Horton then got out of the car with a knife, placed one hand on his brother’s back, and stabbed him in the gut.

Hakiwai said Maaka tried to run but only made it 10 meters before collapsing on the street. Horton then came to Hakiwai with the knife, stabbing him twice in the thigh. The second strike, Hakiwai said, had the 10cm blade fully sink into his leg.

The three assaulters then ran off, leaving Hakiwai to call for help.

“I was yelling at Maaka that we needed to go home,” he told the court. “I tried to walk home and realized I was about to black out, so I called Dad. I said ‘come quick, me and Maaka just got stabbed at the bus stop.’ Then I blacked out and fell forward.”

Maaka was taken to hospital but died from blood loss. Apart from murder, Horton is charged with intentionally and recklessly causing serious injury.

His lawyer Sam Norton on March 15, described the incident as a sad case that involved “the tragic loss of a young life.”

Norton said Horton admitted killing Maaka with the knife within 16 seconds of leaving the car. But he said the attack was unplanned and Horton should be found guilty of manslaughter rather than murder as the teenager had only left the car to go to his friend’s defense.

“The defense position is that in the car before they get out, Horton says nothing about robbing anybody, that he stayed in the car when the others got out, that he was in the car when the others were talking to the Hakiwai brothers,” Norton told the court.

“He only gets out when he sees the four boys fighting. It’s only after one of his mates goes to ground. The defense position is that he goes in defense to his mates.”

Norton later clarified he was not arguing Horton acted in lawful self-defense and that he accepted his client’s actions were not proportionate to the situation. The trial continues.

(Edited by Amrita Das and Sid Roy)



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