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Woman connected to robbery that paralyzed a gunshot victim gets probation, year in jail


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POSTED: Thursday, October 15, 2009

A judge yesterday sentenced a 19-year woman in connection with a home-invasion robbery last year that left a gunshot victim paralyzed from the waist down.

Circuit Judge Karen Ahn sentenced Kiara Garlasa Valdez to five years' probation, including one year in jail, for being an accomplice to first-degree burglary.

However, Ahn suspended imposing the sentence for two weeks because Valdez's lawyer, Nelson Goo, said his client wasn't expecting or prepared to go to jail, and he will be asking Ahn to reconsider the sentence.

Valdez, 19, didn't participate in the last summer's home-invasion robbery in Aliamanu.

But she knew the victim, his address, the layout of the home and directed the robbers to it, said Scott Bell, deputy prosecutor.

Goo said Valdez gave the robbers information about shooting victim Timothy Lapitan, but she had no role in the decision to rob him or when. He said Valdez also cooperated with the state in the case and another shooting involving one of her co-defendants.

Four others, all who were teenage boys between 17 and 19 at the time, have pleaded guilty in the case and are awaiting sentencing, including admitted shooter Nicholas Nichols.

Nichols, 19, is also awaiting sentencing for charges in connection to two separate assaults in May and July 2008.

Police said five males entered a home on Hulakui Drive Aug. 11, 2008, wearing masks and carrying what appeared to the victims as handguns. They took money and property.

Lapitan, 20, his mother, sister and his sister's 4-year-old and 7-year-old sons were home at the time.

Nichols shot Lapitan when Lapitan rushed the robbers as they were leaving and pushed them out of the house, the state said.

The shooting left Lapitan permanently paralyzed from the waist down.

Police arrested a fifth male in the case who was 15 years old at the time. His case is being handled by state Family Court.