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Shocking crimes marred year

Perhaps the only solace for a community rocked by more than its fair share of shocking and violent crimes this past year is that all of the perpetrators are behind bars — at least for the near future.

Without a doubt, the most shocking and violent event was also the most visible — the shooting death of longtime and popular local businessman Alan Kono, who was gunned down in front of his store — P.J.’s Market — and several customers in the middle of the afternoon on June 23, 2005.

In the hours and weeks that followed, the community rallied around Kono’s family and his memory, appalled not just at the loss of one of its most well-regarded members, but at the fact that a man recognized as a longtime customer and friend of Kono — Wayne Brent Hower — was accused of shooting him.

Hower, 44, was caught on video and in the eyes of several witnesses as he shot Kono, then drove to his home nearby.

Although he did not attempt to evade arrest, Hower — who has suffered from a severe mental illness for more than 10 years — later pleaded “not-guilty by reason of insanity.”

More than six months later, Hower — who has since been deemed insane at the time of the crime by at least three mental health experts — is still awaiting trial after several delays.

Now scheduled for March, the trial may not occur if Hower is acquitted at a hearing before Judge Leila Mills that begins Jan. 30.

At that hearing, expected to last three weeks, Deputy Prosecutor Kelly Montgomery said Mills will have to determine if defense attorneys David LaCross and John O’Melveny proved their defense.

If Mills determines the defense met their burden, Hower will be acquitted, Montgomery said. “Then if (Mills) deems him a significant danger to society, he will (most likely) be ordered back to Western State for an indeterminate period of time.”

Arguably the next-most-shocking crime involved two South Kitsap grandparents, Judith Kay, 61, and Larry Lee Mann, 66, who were charged with hog-tying and nearly starving two of their adopted grandchildren.

The couple was arrested June 11, 2005, after a skinny and barely clothed 10-year-old was found wandering along Bethel-Burley Road near the Manns’ home in the middle of the night by a Kitsap County Sheriff’s deputies.

The boy told the deputies a terrible tale — he and his younger sister had been tied up for days with plastic zip-ties, feed only ice chips and crushed graham crackers, and were untied only long enough to use the bathroom.

The boy said he had managed to escape by breaking free of the ties and crawling through a window, and when he led deputies back to his home, they reportedly found his sister, as he described, tied up on a filthy mattress.

Later, according to court documents, investigators learned that the children had not only been tied up, but frequently beaten with hoses and glue sticks, and one of the children had allegedly suffered a broken foot in an altercation with his grandmother.

As of last month, both Manns are serving time, having pleaded guilty to charges of child assault and unlawful imprisonment.

Larry Lee pleaded guilty in November to reduced charges, and was sentenced to eight months in jail. After credit for time served, he will serve four months and be out in spring.

Judith Kay, whom prosecutors described as the “main perpetrator” of the abuse, pleaded guilty to the original charges last month, and was sentenced to four years in prison for what Judge Leonard Costello described as “starving and torturing” and causing most-likely permanent damage to “defenseless” young children in their care.

Both Manns have been ordered to have no further contact with the victims.

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