Longer sentence sought in stabbing


POSTED: Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The state is seeking an extended term of life in prison with the possibility of parole for Glenn Keohokapu Jr.

A state jury found Keohokapu, 36, guilty of manslaughter yesterday for fatally stabbing 19-year-old Steven Wilcox outside a Kaneohe karaoke bar June 8.

The usual penalty for manslaughter is either probation or 20 years in prison.

Both sides said they were disappointed with the verdict.

Keohokapu claims self-defense. He testified that he armed himself with a knife after Wilcox showed him some brass knuckles and then started throwing punches at him. He said Wilcox walked into his knife.

“;I believe that Mr. Keohokapu's conduct was reasonable under the circumstances, and I don't think it was a crime,”; said Ben Ignacio, Keohokapu's lawyer.

Ignacio said Keohokapu will appeal the verdict.

The state had tried to convict Keohokapu of second-degree murder.

“;I do believe we had enough facts to prove murder,”; said Kristine Yoo, deputy prosecutor. “;However, we are happy we were able to get the manslaughter verdict, and we look forward to the sentencing that is now set for June.”;

The victim's father, Robert Wilcox, said all he wanted was justice. He believes he got that.

“;All we could ask is what happened,”; Wilcox said.

Circuit Judge Virginia Crandall excused but did not dismiss the 10 male and two female jurors because they might have to return for a minitrial prior to sentencing.

The state is seeking the life prison term under a state law that allows judges to sentence defendants who are persistent offenders to an extended term for the protection of the public.

A jury will have to determine whether Keohokapu is eligible. Keohokapu may also waive a jury trial and deem himself eligible. Even if he is eligible, it is up to the judge to decide whether to impose an extended term.

Keohokapu has prior convictions for first-degree robbery, second-degree burglary, drug and drug paraphernalia possession and abuse of a household or family member.