No jail time for man in attack
Accused of assaulting an officer, BJ Penn is granted a plea deferral
Mixed-martial-arts fighter BJ Penn won't serve any jail time for his participation in an assault in which a Honolulu police officer was punched in the face.
Circuit Judge Karl Sakamoto granted Penn's request yesterday to defer his no-contest plea to third-degree assault.
He noted that he expected Penn, who hasn't been in trouble with the law before, to apply the discipline that he used to become a top fighter to his personal life and avoid similar confrontations in the future.
The 28-year-old fighter from Hilo has never admitted to assaulting anyone, let alone Officer Richardson Pouoa, during a brawl outside Zanzabar nightclub on May 8, 2005.
Pouoa was working special duty at the club, which was hosting participants of the Rumble on the Rock 7 mixed-martial-arts event the night before. He was struck in the cheek while trying to break up a fight. Penn was indicted for first-degree assault of a police officer.
The defense described the situation as Penn being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"This was 3 a.m. on an evening where there's been a major event at Blaisdell and hundreds of people ended up at Zanzabar to celebrate BJ and others who participated," said defense attorney Michael Green. "There probably was too much alcohol involved," he said, saying that Penn was not drunk.
"I'm really sorry for this whole thing," Penn told the court. "I want to go on with my life, continue to be a role model for kids and move forward."
Deputy Prosecutor Kimberly Iopa opposed the deferral, contending that Penn is a professional fighter who should have known better.
Penn was ordered to perform 50 hours of community service to be completed by November 2008 and contribute $2,000 to the crime victims' compensation fund.
Penn is expected to compete in England in January, Green said.