Pakuranga murder trial begins

The trial of the man accused of killing young Pakuranga mother Chozyn Koroheke is underway in the High Court at Auckland.

Chozyn Koroheke died after being shot in the abdomen on April 4 last year. Photo supplied

Turiarangi Tai is accused of shooting Ms Koroheke once in the abdomen at close range with a 12 gauge double-barrelled shotgun at a house on Pakuranga Rd on April 4 last year.

Ms Koroheke died from her injuries in the back of an ambulance later that night.

On Monday, the Crown presented its opening statement to the court. Crown prosecutor Mark Williams told the court Tai’s actions showed intent — no matter how briefly.

“Mr Tai knew what he wanted to do. He loaded the firearm, disengaged the safety catch and he deliberately pulled the trigger with the clear intention to kill her or, at the very least, injure her.”

Mr Williams said the relationship between Tai and Ms Koroheke was short, but “characterised by violence.”

“That violence manifested itself with fatal consequences.”

He told the court Tai’s attitude towards Ms Koroheke “was one of control and suspicion. Chozyn had told friends that Tai had threatened to shoot her — and on one occasion, had pointed a gun at her.”

The Crown alleges Tai also stabbed

Ms Koroheke in the thigh with a knife on one occasion.

“It was a relationship characterised by frequent violence and controlling behaviour at the hands of Tai.”

Defence lawyer for Tai, Peter Kaye urged the jury to put their emotions aside and judge the case dispassionately.

“We all know we’re here because a 22-year-old young woman has died. W   e can never bring her back….equally, another 22-year-old in Mr Tai…is charged with the most serious criminal offence that our criminal law knows — murder.

“Quite a sobering thought at the age of 22 for both of them isn’t it?”

He asked the jurors to look at the word murder in documents as a “two sided mirror”, and also see the word manslaughter.

“There’s no argument about the issue or whether it caused death.

“You cannot find him not guilty. It’s either guilty of murder or manslaughter,” said Mr Kaye.

Turiarangi Tai is on trial in the High Court at Auckland, accused of murdering Chozyn Koroheke. Times photo Kelly Teed

One witness, who described her friendship with Ms Koroheke as “very close” and “like sisters” said the relationship between the defendant and victim was “a bit rocky, but it was clear they loved each other”.

Samantha Douglas, who was in a relationship with Koroheke’s brother and lived with Tai and Koroheke at the address on Pakuranga Rd, said the pair argued frequently — and it got worse in the week leading up to the victim’s death.

Douglas told the court the relationship between the two “got bad quick” and said she had taken Koroheke to hospital on two occasions — the first time because Tai had “smacked her [in the head] with a rock” which she estimated to be around 10cm in diameter.

She said the day of the incident had been quieter than usual because Tai had been ignoring the victim.

That afternoon, Tai had brought a double-barrelled shotgun into the house and was “showing it off,” the court heard. Ms Douglas was unimpressed and left the room, asking Koroheke on her way out “Where the hell did that come from?”, to which Koroheke allegedly responded “I don’t know but wherever it’s from, it’s so stupid.”

The victim and defendant allegedly argued later that day when Tai asked Koroheke for petrol money and she refused, saying: “he hasn’t talked to me all day, why should I help him?”

Douglas told the court she had witnessed Tai packing up his car, a white Toyota Celica, with his belongings and Ms Koroheke’s hair straighteners. He was threatening to leave, Douglas said, and it was something he’d done before.

Tai reversed out only to come back down the driveway, where Ms Koroheke went out to see why the defendant had returned.

She then ran back inside, saying “he’s got a shotgun”.

Douglas told the court she, Koroheke and Koroheke’s brother Nacyn took cover in Douglas and Nacyn’s bedroom.

She says it was a matter of seconds between Tai pushing the door to the bedroom open with the shotgun and Koroheke being shot.

The court heard that Tai allegedly hit Koroheke in the head with the shotgun and said “You f*****g b**ch, before jabbing Koroheke in the stomach with the gun and pulling the trigger – the Crown alleges at a distance of between 10 and 50cm.

Turiarangi Tai is accused of killing 22-year-old Chozyn Koroheke. Photo supplied

Under examination from Williams, Douglas recounted how Koroheke held her right hip, looked at her [Douglas] and collapsed into her brother’s arms after being shot.

Douglas said Tai and Nacyn then yelled out at her to call an ambulance. She then ran to a neighbour’s house to use a telephone.

She said immediately after shooting Koroheke, Tai began crying and repeating “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

Ms Douglas said she returned to the scene to find Nacyn and Tai attempting to perform CPR on the victim.

Tai allegedly told Ms Douglas “You didn’t see anything” before leaving the scene.

The Crown alleges Tai fled the scene after a matter of minutes, using Koroheke’s debit card to buy petrol, drinks and cigarettes among other items while Koroheke lay dying.

He evaded capture for two weeks, before eventually handing himself in to police. The Crown alleges 25-year-old Moheofo Manulevu, who is appearing alongside Tai on trial, helped him evade capture. She is being charged with being an accessory after the fact of murder and has pleaded not guilty.

Turiarangi Tai is appearing in front of a jury and Justice Matthew Muir in the High Court at Auckland on one charge of murder and one charge of unlawful use of a firearm.

He has admitted to the firearm charge but pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder.

The trial has been set down for four weeks.