Thursday, August 11, 2005

Drunken driver
avoids long term

Prosecutors argue 52 weekends
in jail and probation are
not enough of a sentence

Early July 4, 2002, Francis Basilio was riding his mo-ped to his maintenance job at the Kamehameha Shopping Center on his day off to fill in for a co-worker.

He never made it.

At about 3:30 a.m., as he headed southeast on Moanalua Freeway toward the King Street offramp, about a mile north of Middle Street, the 70-year-old Salt Lake man was rear-ended by an intoxicated and speeding motorist.

Circuit Judge Richard Perkins sentenced the drunken driver, 24-year-old Jason Lee Nicol of Kalihi, yesterday to 52 consecutive weekends in jail as a condition of five years' probation for negligently causing the death of another while driving under the influence.

At the time of the crash, Nicol's blood-alcohol content was 0.189 percent -- more than twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent, prosecutors said.

Nicol pleaded no contest April 1 to first-degree negligent homicide, an offense punishable by a maximum of 10 years' imprisonment.

Deputy Prosecutor George Parrott had asked that Nicol, who was 20 at the time, receive the 10-year term to deter others and because his actions resulted in a person's death.

"Obviously, we're not happy," he said.

Parrott had argued that Nicol's alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit and that he was not even old enough to drink in the first place.

"The only way for people to think twice is if they believe they will get the open (10-year) term," he said.

But the defense argued that Nicol led an exemplary life of service to the community before and after the incident.

Nicol also feels extreme remorse for causing the man's death and, even three years later, is still depressed and in shock over what happened, said defense attorney Howard Luke. "He's going to be haunted by this for the rest of his life," Luke said.

Many letters submitted to the court in support of Nicol described his extensive work in the community helping youths and senior citizens while working for the city parks department, A+ and Summer Fun programs and in the schools.

Nicol also excelled academically, making the dean's list at the University of Hawaii while holding down two or three jobs, Luke said. "He's really a good person and really feels bad for the (Basilio) family."

Nicol faced the Basilios for the first time yesterday and offered his deepest apologies. He said nothing he could say could take back what he did and that he was wrong to get behind the wheel of a car that night.

But for Basilio's son, Frankie, 104 days in jail only on the weekends is simply "not enough."

"If I was the driver, I would feel guilty not serving (more) jail," he said.

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