Killer admits he drove at jogger
The deputy prosecutor will argue against a deferred plea of guilt
A man who recklessly caused the death of an off-duty police officer almost 10 years ago has admitted he attempted to run over a jogger in Kahala last year after the two exchanged heated words following a traffic incident.
Gabriel Kealoha, 27, pleaded guilty yesterday in Circuit Court to two counts of first-degree terroristic threatening -- using his sport utility vehicle to drive at the jogger twice last November "to get my last word" in and "to scare him."
Kealoha admitted that he acted irresponsibly, and has asked the court to defer his plea, allowing him to wipe his record clean if he complies with the court's orders.
Deputy Prosecutor Kevin Takata said Kealoha is eligible for a deferral because his prior conviction occurred when he was still a juvenile.
Takata said he will argue against the deferral at sentencing because Kealoha, at 17, killed off-duty officer Arthur Miller out of anger as a teenager and then last year, twice drove his SUV at an innocent jogger. "Clearly, the years have not diminished the anger that fuels his violence," Takata said.
Kealoha told Circuit Judge Richard Pollack yesterday that he was driving in Kahala when a car coming out of a side street cut him off and almost struck him, causing him to swerve.
He said he passed the car and, when he looked back, noticed someone in his rearview mirror "calling me to return to the scene," he said.
The jogger, 34, later told police that he was running along Kealaolu Avenue when the SUV drove at him after overtaking a car, causing him to have to jump out of the way. After the jogger exchanged words with the driver, Kealoha came around again and tried to run him over, the man told police.
Outside the courtroom, Kealoha said he was "very sorry" about the matter and has taken steps to address his anger by taking an anger management course.
"I'm on the road to a lot of good things, hopefully," he said. "I want to change my life around -- not in a big way, but just the way that I display my anger."
Defense attorney Brook Hart said one of the early steps Kealoha took to make changes in his life was to write a sincere letter of apology to the jogger.
Kealoha was tried as a juvenile in Family Court and found guilty in 1997 for the October 1996 death of off-duty police officer Arthur Miller. According to Kealoha, the intoxicated Miller forced him to pull over to the side of the road on the H-1. When both exited their cars, the two struggled and Miller went over the viaduct. Tests later showed Miller had more than twice the legal limit of alcohol in his blood.
Kealoha was sent to the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility until age 19.