26-year term for multicar crash
A 27-year-old man was sentenced yesterday to 26 years in prison for plowing through 13 cars with a stolen van near Hawaii Kai in an attempt to flee from police because he did not want to go back to prison.
Circuit Judge Steve Alm also ordered Patrick Masaoka to serve a mandatory minimum of six years and eight months as a repeat offender, based on a prior felony conviction.
Alm, citing the seriousness of Masaoka's actions, imposed two 10-year terms on 13 counts of first-degree criminal property damage. Masaoka will also have to serve five-year terms at the same time for auto theft and drug charges and a one-year term for reckless endangering in the Dec. 14, 2005, incident.
A jury had acquitted Masaoka of an attempted-murder charge in March for attempting to harm an officer who was approaching him on foot.
"We're just fortunate nobody got killed or seriously injured in this," Alm said, noting that the state's comparison of Masaoka's van to a locomotive "is not that out of whack."
Defense attorney Cliff Hunt objected to the characterization, saying Masaoka went from being stopped in traffic on Kalanianaole Highway near Kalani High School to "slowly pushing cars out of the way" and was not going at high speed.
Masaoka, who was on parole at the time, told police later that he knew there was a "no-bail" warrant out for his arrest and did not want to go back to jail. He was also high on "ice" and driving a stolen van with drugs inside, Alm said. The reason Masaoka finally stopped was because the van's axle broke.
Kauai utility to help fund garden
KALAHEO, Kauai » The U.S. Department of Agriculture is funding the Kauai electricity co-op's bid to build a new botanical center.
The USDA Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program will give a $300,000 grant to Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, which will then lend the funds to the National Tropical Botanical Garden.
The money will be used to build a Botanical Research Center, with a rare-book library, work areas, a herbarium and laboratories, said Lorraine Shin, Hawaii state director for USDA rural development. A dozen full-time jobs will be created.
The rural grant program provides funding to electric and phone cooperatives, which then provide the money to support job retention or creation, Shin said in a press release.
Debtors' rights are topic of talk
The public is invited to a free seminar sponsored by the state Judiciary on understanding the legal rights and responsibilities of debtors and learning how to respond to creditors and deal with problem debt.
"Credit and Bankruptcy" will be held from noon to 1 p.m. tomorrow in the Supreme Court conference room at 417 S. King St.
The seminar is part of the Judiciary's "Lunch 'n' Learn the Law" Program on topics relating to specific areas of the law and the courts.
Attorneys Walter Davison of Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel and Ted Pettit, with Case Lombardi & Pettit, will be the featured presenters.
For more information, call the Judiciary Public Affairs Office at 539-4909.
Police, Fire, Courts
Lung injury killed shooting victim
The 30-year-old Sunset Beach man who was killed by a gunman during a fight between two groups of partygoers died Saturday of injury to his lung from a gunshot wound to the chest, the Medical Examiner's Office said.
Dillon Ching died in his family's driveway on Kamehameha Highway.
The shooting occurred shortly before midnight. Ching's family was having a small gathering at their home while a group of about 40 people were partying at nearby Sunset Beach.
Officer's death due to heart disease
A 48-year-old off-duty Honolulu police sergeant who intervened during a fight 10 a.m. Sunday between two men at Haleiwa Beach Park died of natural causes.
The Medical Examiner's Office found Harry Coelho died of heart disease due to severe coronary atherosclerosis and hypertension.
Coelho was at the park for a church service when a fight erupted between the two men, police said. He ordered the two men to stop fighting, and collapsed while talking to them, police said.
Coelho was taken to Wahiawa General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Witnesses interviewed said Coelho was not touched during the fight, police said.
Husband arrested for alleged abuse
Police arrested a 55-year-old Waimanalo man Saturday afternoon for allegedly hitting his wife several times and threatening her with a knife during an argument at their home.
The husband hit his 42-year-old wife several times with his fist, police said.
Afterward, he allegedly grabbed a kitchen knife and threatened to kill her and himself, police said.
He left the home, returned and was arrested by police for investigation of abuse and terroristic threatening.
Maui motorcyclist dies after collision
WAILUKU » A motorcyclist died after a collision with a car in South Maui.
Raymond Sim, 33, of Kahului died at Maui Memorial Medical Center as a result of injuries from the cash, police investigator Dukie J. Racadio said.
Sim was going south on Piilani Highway when the driver of the car turned left onto the highway off Keonekai Road in front of Sim and caused the collision at 6:38 a.m. yesterday, police said.
The driver of the car, a 60-year-old California woman, was treated and released at the scene.
Sim, who was not wearing a helmet, was the eighth traffic fatality this year, compared with five for the same period last year.