Slain Puna man remembered as a 'gentle soul'
The suspect charged with second-degree murder in the death of internationally acclaimed artist Shingo Honda appeared in Hilo District Court Monday morning.
55-year-old Michael Cecil Lee of Puna was arrested on Saturday at the Pahoa Christmas Parade and is being held in lieu of $250,000 bail.
Lee is accused of killing 75-year-old Honda, whose body was found on Wednesday near his home in the Orchid Isle Estates subdivision in Puna.
Court documents show Lee bragged about killing Honda because he believed Honda was a war criminal. Lee also told police "God" killed Honda and he only laid the body down.
Authorities said an autopsy shows Honda died from multiple injuries caused by blunt force trauma.
Friends of Honda took to social media to honor the artist.
Fellow Big Island artist Patti Millington shared a photo of Honda with his wife Lynne Farr, writing: "His last act was an attempt to befriend a poor lost soul who had set up camp near their home."
News of the tragedy shocked people across the world who worked with Honda, who said he had a significant impact on the art scene in Japan and Los Angeles.
"In the center of downtown L.A., where his studio was, it was a very crude, rough neighborhood back in the day. It was before the days of gentrification. I think that he brought this wonderful beauty to a desolate place. He was such a gentle soul and a kind, kind man," said Leonardo Ledesma, an L.A. art dealer and friend of Honda.