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Sentencing delayed for UH panty burglar


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POSTED: Saturday, March 21, 2009

A former University of Hawaii student said in court yesterday she is still traumatized by what happened to her in her dorm room more than a year ago.

The female student awoke in the middle of the night Aug. 19, 2007, as a man was trying to cut off her panties. When she awoke, the man held a pair of scissors to her face, groped her, then fled when she screamed, she said. The scissors cut her lip. It was only her second day at the school.

The assailant, former Schofield Barracks soldier Mark Heath, was supposed to be sentenced yesterday for the sexual assault and UH break-ins and for an April 2007 break-in and sexual assault of a woman in her Ala Wai Boulevard residence. But prior to yesterday's hearing, his lawyer said the prosecutor informed him of new information that could affect the Ala Wai case. Neither the lawyer nor the prosecutor would reveal the new information.

Heath pleaded guilty last year to breaking into the woman's dorm room and sexually assaulting her. He also pleaded guilty to two other UH dormitory room break-ins in which panties and other items were stolen.

Heath was stationed at Schofield Barracks when he committed the crimes. The Army discharged him in April 2008 while he was in custody awaiting trial.

Against his lawyer's advice, Heath wished to go forward with sentencing. The state is recommending a 60-year prison term; his lawyer said he intended to request probation.

But Circuit Judge Dexter Del Rosario postponed sentencing to give the lawyer time to pursue the new information and advise Heath on whether to withdraw his guilty plea in the Ala Wai case.

Heath apologized to the UH victim in court yesterday.

“;Words just can't express how sorry I am for what I've done to you. I'm sorry for what I've done,”; he said.

The woman, now 20, said she transferred to a school near her home in Texas because she did not feel safe in the dormitory.

“;Every time my roommate would make any kind of noise, I'd wake up in a panic and have to check if the door is locked,”; she said.

Even after transferring, the woman says she is still fearful and does not feel safe in her own home.