CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Jonathan Namauu, left, was hugged by his sister yesterday in Circuit Court as he was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Namauu admitted to negligently causing the deaths of two passengers and seriously injuring two others in a drunken driving crash on Kalanianaole Highway in Waimanalo on Feb. 1, 2003.
Drunken driver gets 10 years for fatalities
The judge calls it the worst case of irresponsible driving he has ever handled
A former Oahu man who admitted to negligently causing the deaths of two passengers, including his half brother, in a truck crash was sentenced yesterday to 10 years in prison.
Circuit Judge Richard Perkins imposed the maximum sentence yesterday on Jonathan Namauu, 35, saying this case presented the worst example of irresponsible driving that he has ever had to handle as a judge.
According to prosecutors, Namauu was speeding on Kalanianaole Highway in Waimanalo on Feb. 1, 2003, when he lost control of the truck, struck a concrete culvert, vaulted into the air, struck a utility pole and flipped over, ejecting the six passengers in the truck bed.
Killed were his half brother Zebedee Leahy, 21, and Jaime Singleton, 17. Two others, including Brittney Herring, were seriously injured.
Willie Singleton, who lost his only child in the crash, told the court yesterday Namauu stole much more than his daughter's life.
"I won't be able to walk her down the aisle," he said. "I won't be able to have grandkids. ... You took that away, you took that away. All we have is a hole in our hearts."
Herring said her family was forced out of their home and until recently were living in their cars, in part because of her rising medical bills and frequent anxiety attacks.
She cannot work and is on disability because she injured her back in the crash. She continues to have nightmares about the incident.
"My life is ruined," she told the court.
Namauu had been drinking throughout the day and was driving erratically, prosecutors said. He rejected offers from his passengers to drive.
Witnesses also reported seeing him playing "chicken" -- crossing into oncoming traffic and forcing the cars to avoid him or collide.
Deputy Prosecutor Leila Tanaka argued for the 10-year term, saying Namauu has shown that he is a poor candidate for probation. He has a past DUI conviction and has failed to complete court-ordered substance abuse treatment.
Two hours after the crash, Namauu's blood alcohol content was 0.15 -- nearly twice the legal limit. He had no driver's license and the car was not insured. He was speeding at 62 mph in a 35 mph zone.
Although he was charged with manslaughter, Namauu pleaded guilty in August under a plea agreement to two counts of first-degree negligent homicide and second- and third-degree assault for injuries to two passengers.
Namauu maintains he was intoxicated that night and cannot remember what happened. But he said he pleaded guilty to the charges because he wanted closure.
Defense attorney Keith Shigetomi said the case was delayed while they awaited results of an investigation by crash reconstruction experts. The results appeared to suggest that another passenger, not Namauu, was driving, he said.
Despite the uncertainty, Namauu took responsibility and pleaded guilty to the charges, Shigetomi said.
Namauu apologized to the parents of Singleton and Herring, who were present at the proceedings.