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Teen apologizes to shooting victim


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POSTED: Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A teenager who admitted shooting a man in a home-invasion robbery in Aliamanu last summer faced his victim in court, apologized and called him a hero.

Nicholas Nichols, 19, pleaded guilty to first-degree assault, first-degree robbery, kidnapping, first-degree burglary and using a firearm to commit the Aug. 11, 2008, robbery.

Circuit Judge Karen Ahn sentenced Nichols yesterday to 20 years in prison for the shooting and robbery plus 10 years for two earlier assaults on a member of a rival gang. He must serve at least five years of his 30-year sentence before he is eligible for parole for using a firearm to commit his crimes. The Hawaii Paroling Authority can set a higher minimum.

Ahn also ordered Nichols to pay $501,344 restitution for his victim's medical bills.

Nichols shot Timothy Lapitan, 21, in the Aliamanu robbery as Lapitan was trying to push Nichols and four other masked, teenage robbers out of his family's home. Lapitan's mother, sister and nephews, who were 4 and 7 at the time, were also in the home and witnessed the shooting.

;[Preview]  Paralyzed Hero Speaks In Nichols Sentencing
 

In circuit court, Nicholas Nichols was sentenced to 30 years behind bars for his armed assault and granted forgiveness by the man he nearly killed.

Watch ]

 

Lapitan is paralyzed from the waist down and uses a wheelchair.

Nichols called himself a coward for shooting Lapitan.

“;It should be me in that wheelchair and not someone who was just protecting his family,”; Nichols said. “;You're a hero for what you did, and I respect you for that.”;

Lapitan said he is glad to put the episode behind him and does not place complete blame on Nichols for what happened to him.

“;It was the girl's fault,”; Lapitan said, “;He's gotta do his time, but when he gets out, I hope the best for him.”;

Kiara Garlasa Valdez, 19, pleaded guilty to being an accomplice to first-degree burglary.

Ahn sentenced her to five years of probation, including one year in jail.

Valdez is asking Ahn to reconsider the jail portion of her sentence.

Deputy Prosecutor Scott Bell said if not for Valdez, the robbery would not have happened. He said Valdez identified Lapitan as a target for the robbery and provided Lapitan's address and the layout of his home.

Lapitan said he took SAT preparatory classes with Valdez.

Three other defendants, all teenagers at the time of the shooting, have pleaded guilty for their roles in the robbery and are awaiting sentencing. A fourth teenager, who was 15 years old at the time, is being prosecuted in Family Court.