Defendant to testify in home invasion


POSTED: Wednesday, August 12, 2009

One of the persons charged in an armed, home-invasion robbery in Aliamanu last summer that left one of the victims paralyzed from a gunshot wound has agreed to testify against the other defendants.

John Matt Rasalan, 18, pleaded guilty yesterday to first-degree burglary, two counts of first-degree robbery and three counts of kidnapping in what the judge called a cooperation agreement with the state.

Deputy Prosecutor Scott Bell confirmed Rasalan has agreed to testify against all of the other defendants. However, at Bell's request for Rasalan's safety, Circuit Judge Karen Ahn sealed the agreement.

Another defendant, Kiara Garlasa Valdez, was scheduled to change her plea today. She is charged with being an accomplice to first-degree burglary.

Police said five males entered a home on Hulakui Drive on Aug. 11 last year, wearing masks and brandishing what appeared to witnesses as handguns.

Timothy Lapitan was in the home with his mother and sister.

Police said the robbers took electronics and other items from the home, then fled. Before they left the home, the state said, Lapitan rushed the males, and one of them shot him.

An ambulance took Lapitan in critical condition to a hospital, where he underwent several surgeries. The injury left him paralyzed from the waist down.

Oahu grand juries charged Rasalan, brothers Kerry and Kevin Khamsouk and Nicholas Nichols with burglary, robbery, kidnapping and using a firearm to commit the crimes. A grand jury also charged Nichols with attempted second-degree murder.

Bell said the state agreed to drop the firearm charges against Rasalan because whatever he was brandishing during the robbery, it was not a firearm.

Rasalan also pleaded guilty to reckless endangering, first-degree terroristic threatening and carrying a firearm without a permit in an unrelated case for firing a handgun on Jan. 2, 2008.