A Hawaii man was convicted late this week of stabbing a 19-year-old California resident to death during the early summer of 2021.
Oscar K. Cardona, 23, was found guilty by jurors in Oahu Circuit Court of murder in the second degree over the death of Elian Delacerda, who died during the early morning hours near a beach in Waikiki.
An alternate — and eyebrow-raising — theory of blame for the man’s death was rejected by the jury. Cardona’s Public Defender Christian Enright attempted to attribute Delacerda’s death to a visiting nurse who allegedly administered CPR on the victim while he was still breathing, according to The Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
That excuse didn’t ferry the defendant toward freedom, however, as the local medical examiner reportedly contradicted the defense by testifying that Delacerda died from a stab wound to his heart.
Cardona also testified in his own defense by arguing that while he indeed held the knife that stabbed the victim, he wasn’t actually making a stabbing motion with the weapon. Rather, Delacerda may have stabbed himself while attacking the defendant, Cardona said.
The claim suggested some sort of self-defense was part of the melee, the newspaper indicated.
The stabbing incident occurred on a Tuesday, just “moments after a confrontation broke out on the sidewalk” between two groups, according to Honolulu CBS affiliate KGMB, NBC affiliate KHN, and Telemundo affiliate KFVE – television stations which collectively operate under the banner of Hawaii News Now.
The fight occurred at Kuhio Beach Park near what is known as the Waikiki Wall, a stretch of storm drain covered in concrete that juts out into the ocean, a popular hangout spot for locals and tourists alike.
“The fight just became a mess,” Richard Plekhanov, a witness, told San Francisco-based CBS affiliate KPIX at the time of the violence. “Everybody fighting. I’ve seen the guy all in blood. It was terrible.”
Cardona was immediately taken into custody after the stabbing and charged days later. Police were reportedly also looking for a female suspect in connection with the case at the time the defendant was arrested. It is presently unclear where happened with that search.
The victim hailed from the Central Valley region of California but was living in Vacaville at the time he was taken away forever.
“Elian DeLaCerda, a sweet and kindhearted young man who’s 19 turning 20 in August,” his family noted in a statement provided to San Francisco MyNetworkTV affiliate KRON after he was identified as the victim. “He is from Fresno, California. Elian leaves behind both parents, stepparents, grandparents, two brothers and two sisters. He is a son, grandson, brother, cousin, and friend. He is loved by many people who are praying for justice.”
The state’s form of justice is now a matter of sentencing formalities. Local authorities praised the outcome of the trial.
“The Department is very pleased with the verdict and hopes that it brings some closure to Mr. Delacerda’s family,” Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Steve Alm said in comments reported by Honolulu ABC affiliate KITV. “The public will be protected from Cardona’s violent behavior for many years to come.”
Cardona faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. On Friday, Judge Kevin Morikone set Cardona’s sentencing for the late morning of Dec. 13, 2022. He is currently being detained at the Oahu Community Correctional Center.
[image via Hawaii Department of Public Safety]
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