Pada juror slams
courts lack of
justice for Reubyne
The abuser's sentencing hinged onBy Craig Gima
a burden of proof that may soon shift
A juror in the Kimberly Pada trial says he hopes the state Legislature will provide some measure of justice for child abuse victims like Reubyne Buentipo Jr.
Pada was convicted Monday of second-degree attempted murder for beating Reubyne to the point where he is now expected to live the rest of his life in a coma.
But because the jury could not decide if Pada was under "extreme mental and emotional disturbance" when the crime was committed, Pada will likely be sentenced for attempted man-slaughter rather than attempted murder.
"It's absolutely ridiculous that a child can be basically as close to death as humanly possible, and the perpetrator can be in jail for as little as six to eight years and has already served two years," said juror Richard Field.
"This is not justice."
Second-degree attempted murder could have meant life in prison with parole and a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years.
Pada will now serve a minimum of six years, eight months of a maximum 20-year prison term under sentencing guidelines for felonies against children.
Field said the jury thought it had convicted Pada of attempted murder. "You hear stories of people getting off on technicalities," Field said. But he said he didn't think it would happen in this case.
"I think everybody was dumbfounded," he said. "They didn't realize what had happened until about an hour later."
He said the vote was 11-to-1 on the emotional distress question. Field thinks that the other jurors would have continued deliberating and tried to change the mind of the last holdout if they knew that the question meant a lighter sentence for Pada.
But in an interview with KITV last night, the man identified as the holdout juror, Duane Lau, said he would not have changed his mind about the question.
Field blames the Legislature for not acting on the issue.
"Had this been dealt with in the past, none of this would be an issue today," Field said.
The Legislature appears now to be ready to pass bills to address the "extreme emotional disturbance" defense in murder cases.
Senate Judiciary Co-Chairmen Avery Chumbley (D, Kihei) and Matt Matsunaga (D, Palolo) said they will pass a bill Friday to address the issue.
"It (the Pada case) certainly crystalizes the issue for us and allows us to move forward," Matsunaga said.
The House Judiciary Committee meets tomorrow afternoon to decide on a similar bill that would change the burden of proof to what's known as an "affirmative defense."
Under the bills, the defense would have the burden of proof to show that the defendant was acting under extreme emotional disturbance. Under current law, the prosecution has to prove "beyond a reasonable doubt" that the defendant was not acting under extreme emotional disturbance.
But Gov. Ben Cayetano said yesterday he does not believe the law needs to be changed.
Cayetano said the Pada incident is "tragic." But he said our system of justice provides for a mechanism to take mitigating issues into account.
Dennis Dunn of the city prosecutor's office said that bills to address the "extreme emotional disturbance" defense have come before the Legislature since 1992.