Kumu hula gets 6-month term in fatal accident
Ray Fonseca is also ordered to repay $3,240.50 in costs
HILO » Big Island hula master Ray Fonseca wiped tears from his eyes in court as comments were read from a letter by the daughter of a man he had killed in a traffic accident.
Michael Spens, 59, was such a kind man that he would pick up spiders in his hands and move them rather than injure them, said daughter Dawn Spens in a letter read yesterday at Fonseca's sentencing.
"I realize there is nothing I can do to balance the loss of life," Fonseca told Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura. "I hope I can teach others to be more aware."
Nakamura sentenced Fonseca, 52, to six months in prison but allowed him to be released during the day to teach hula and do up to seven hours a week of community service. He also placed Fonseca on probation for five years and ordered him to pay $3,240.50 spent returning him to Hawaii from San Francisco.
Fonseca will get credit for time already served, about four to five weeks, said his attorney, Andy Wilson.
The sentence was consistent with a plea agreement approved in February, in which Fonseca pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of second-degree negligent homicide.
Fonseca has led his Halau Hula O Kahikilaulani to frequent victories at the annual Merrie Monarch hula competition in Hilo.
Following the early-evening accident in Eden Roc subdivision south of Hilo on Dec. 13, 2003, Fonseca was found to have cocaine residue in his body, Nakamura noted. Records also show Fonseca was on the wrong side of the road.
Wilson noted that only one side of the road is properly paved, and nearly everyone leaving Eden Roc drives on the wrong side. Spens was driving a mo-ped, which he had just bought and which had its engine power illegally increased with no increase in its braking power, Wilson said.
Spens had also used a medication that can cause drowsiness, Wilson said.
Deputy Prosecutor Rick Damerville said Fonseca had no car insurance and had multiple prior insurance violations.
Wilson said Fonseca has agreed to sell his home and give the money to Dawn Spens to settle a lawsuit she brought against him. The rural Mountain View home is listed for sale at $210,000.
Fonseca has "completely changed his lifestyle," Wilson told Nakamura. Since being arrested in January 2005 while returning from a hula-teaching trip to Mexico, Fonseca has been tested for drugs up to six times per month with no drugs found, Wilson said.