New charge emerges in Hawaiian artifacts theft case 5-24-07

HONOLULU (AP) - One of two men accused of stealing Hawaiian artifacts from a Big Island burial cave was indicted Wednesday by a state grand jury on one count of felony theft.

Daniel Taylor, 40, is already awaiting sentencing in federal court after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge in March 2006. He could receive up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine for violating the Native American Protection and Repatriation Act.

Taylor's co-defendant, John Carta, 46, was found dead in Kailua-Kona in February, about a month before he was to begin serving a one-year federal prison sentence. Police said at the time that there was no reason to suspect foul play.

Taylor and Carta stole about 157 artifacts from Kanupa Cave in Kohala in 2004, officials said. The funerary objects included wooden bowls, a gourd and a holua sled runner.

“The state of Hawaii views any looting of Hawaiian burial sites as extraordinary serious,” Attorney General Mark Bennett said. “We will criminally prosecute thieves and looters to the full extent of the law.”

The artifacts are believed to have first been taken from Kanupa Cave in the late 1800s and sold to museums. The objects were returned to the cave in 2003 by Hui Malama I Na Kupuna O Hawaii Nei, a Hawaiian group dedicated to the repatriation of Hawaiian burial remains and funerary objects.