Guilty plea planned in notorious attack
A Waianae man was expected to plead guilty today to assaulting a military couple after a minor traffic incident in a parking lot at the Waikele Center.
Gerald D. Paakaula, 44, was set to go to trial on Monday on two second-degree assault charges and being an accomplice to second-degree assault in the Feb. 19 incident. Staff Sgt. Andrew Dussell, 26, and wife Dawn Dussell, 23, suffered concussions and facial fractures.
The confrontation attracted national attention because of its racial overtones.
Paakaula's 16-year-old son was heard confronting Andrew Dussell, calling him a "f----g haole" after Dussell's Durango attempted to pull into a parking stall and accidentally struck the Paakaulas' Chevy.
Local and nonlocal residents expressed disgust and embarrassment over the use of racial profanity and the brutality of the assault, which occurred during daylight hours. The altercation drew a crowd fronting the complex that houses Party City, Jurison's Inn and Subway.
Paakaula was accused of engaging in reckless conduct -- punching Dussell in the throat, causing him to fall to the ground, and punching Dawn Dussell in the face, picking her off her feet and slamming her to the ground, knocking her momentarily unconscious. The couple's 3-year-old was in the back seat of their sport utility vehicle.
Paakaula was exiting Baskin Robbins when he saw his wife struggling with Dawn Dussell and jumped in, believing his family was under siege, the defense had said earlier. They say they regret what happened but that Dawn Dussell provoked the physical confrontation by striking their son.
Despite the racial epithets, prosecutors did not characterize the incident as a hate crime because the traffic accident is what triggered the violence. The Paakaulas maintain that the assault had nothing to do with the couple being Caucasian.
Second-degree assault is a Class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Paakaula has a 2002 conviction for beating his son for misbehaving in school.