Gunman's shorter term upheld
A panel upholds a ruling that struck down a life sentence
A ruling that overturned the life sentence of a gunman involved in a 1998 shootout with police was upheld yesterday by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway ruled in December 2004 that the extended sentence imposed by a state judge violated the constitutional rights of Wayman Kaua.
The sentencing court determined an extended sentence was needed to protect the public, but the appeals panel said the 2000 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Apprendi v. New Jersey required a jury to make the finding.
"It's highly likely that we will seek relief from this particular ruling," said city Prosecutor Peter Carlisle.
Prosecutors could seek a full-panel hearing by the San Francisco-based appeals court or appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, he said.
"Those options are going to be discussed, and we're going to decide what we're going to do but we're certainly not going to leave this alone," Carlisle said.
If the decision stands, prosecutors will seek to have a Circuit Court jury impaneled to sentence Kaua to an extended term, according to Carlisle, who said he did not know if such a thing has ever been done in Hawaii.
Kaua's attorney, federal public defender Peter Wolff Jr., doubted such a thing could happen.
"I don't know that that would be possible, at least not under the current state procedure," Wolff said.
Kaua fired 17 shots during the shootout that left thousands of Pearl City residents stranded for up to 22 hours.
The trial jury rejected a first-degree attempted-murder charge and convicted him, instead, of the lesser charge of attempted manslaughter, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and other offenses.
No one was injured in the shootout except Kaua, who was blinded in one eye by a police bullet.