Monday, April 20, 1998

Purse snatcher pleads
a strategic ‘no contest’

By Linda Hosek


One of 10 drive-by purse snatchers prosecuted in federal court has pleaded no contest in state court to another snatching incident in which the victim's jaw was broken. But Kenneth Kalei Young also told the judge he wasn't guilty in the Sept. 30 robbery in Waikiki.

"I was not there when this crime happened," he said before Circuit Judge Dexter Del Rosario sentenced him to 10 years for second-degree robbery.

Del Rosario on Friday accepted Young's plea, judged him guilty and ordered the state term to run concurrently with a federal 63-month term he received March 30.

Eric Seitz, Young's attorney, said after the hearing that his 22-year-old client admitted to stealing the truck in the Sept. 30 incident but wasn't present. He said Young, a Castle High School graduate, pleaded no contest "because it was a better deal than going to trial on attempted murder."

The state had charged Young with attempted second-degree murder and first-degree robbery in the case involving Shio Omura, a 19-year-old Japanese tourist.

Deputy Prosecutor Randal Lee said Omura's jaw was broken in the Waikiki purse-snatching incident.

Lee said he would ask the parole board to require Young to serve all 10 years.

Young was sentenced in federal court under the Hobbs Act, aimed at prosecuting those who affect interstate commerce, such as tourism. He pleaded guilty in December to conspiring to rob and robbing five tourists.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Larry Butrick said Young and co-defendant John H. Edwards, who received 80 months, had said they were involved in about 100 robbery incidents.

Seven of the 10 defendants in the robbery ring have been sentenced to four to 11-2/3 years.

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