Friday, March 12, 1999

Probation revoked
for man who
beat Army pilot

By Lori Tighe


Toeun Chhin, convicted of beating an Army helicopter pilot and causing permanent brain damage, returned to prison yesterday for up to five years.

Judge Michael Town revoked his five-year probation due to his arrest for two felony drug counts in December. Those drug charges remain pending.

Chhin, 20, was the state's first Family Court juvenile case opened to the public under a new law. Crimes allegedly committed by juveniles aged 16 to 18 involving serious bodily injury and prior offenses can now be opened publicly upon request.

"Chhin did nothing on probation. He didn't report to his probation officer. He used alcohol and drugs. He refused drug treatment. And he was arrested for buying cocaine," said Deputy Prosecutor Joe Lee. "We're very happy with the decision."

Chhin received one year in prison and five years probation for jumping and beating an Army helicopter pilot at the Fort Street Mall in 1996. The pilot suffered vision and memory loss and was medically discharged from the Army.

Chhin told the Army pilot, who was talking to a homeless man about the military, to "get off his turf," Lee said.

Chhin, brought to Hawaii at a young age from Cambodia by his grandmother, claimed he went to the defense of the homeless man whom the pilot harassed.

The former pilot, who lost 30 percent of his left brain function, is now in a vocational training program for people with brain damage, Lee said.

The Hawaii Paroling Authority will set Chhin's minimum sentence within a month.

Lee said, "Hopefully this will be his wake-up call."

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