Friday, February 26, 1999

Prosecutors want
probation revoked in
beating of soldier

By Debra Barayuga


City prosecutors are seeking to have probation revoked for a 20-year-old man convicted of beating an Army soldier at Fort Street Mall in 1996, causing permanent brain damage.

Toeun Chhin has failed to comply with nearly all the terms of his probation, said Deputy Prosecutor Joe Lee.

Chhin, a 17-year-old at the time of attack, was sentenced to five years probation with one-year imprisonment after pleading no contest to second-degree assault.

Daniel Nadler, a helicopter technician at Wheeler Army Air Field, lost 30 percent of his left brain function after being punched and kicked and was medically discharged from the service.

Circuit Judge Michael Town yesterday continued the hearing to March 11 to give the defense more time to review a report by his probation officer and work out any outstanding criminal matters.

"Toeun has been pretty good at being honest about what he's done and taking the consequences," said Chhin's court-appointed attorney Mayla Blakley who was handed a copy of the probation officer's report yesterday.

Chhin, who lost family members in the killing fields of Cambodia, was brought to Hawaii by his grandmother at a young age, she said. "Things haven't been easy for him."

The Nadler assault wasn't a clear case of victim vs. perpetrator, she said.

"Not that he's not responsible for what he did, but it's a hard, cold hitting of someone without conscience of thinking about it."

Chhin had claimed he went to the defense of a homeless man whom Nadler was picking on when Nadler came after him with a knife.

While Chhin does have a drug problem, he will have things to contribute once he resolves it, Blakley said.

Chhin was initially charged as an adult with first-degree assault in the attack after Family Court waived jurisdiction over him in the first juvenile proceeding opened to the public since a law was enacted in July 1997.

The law allows hearings on crimes committed by juveniles 16 to 18 to be open upon request if it involves serious bodily injury.

Last September, Town released Chhin from prison three weeks early so he could care for his 1-year-old daughter. The mother had abandoned the infant with Chhin's grandmother. He was still however, required to serve five years probation.

In December, three months to the day he was released, Chhin was arrested and charged with possession of cocaine.

A police officer allegedly awoke Chhin who was sleeping in a parked car and noticed a cocaine pipe fall to the ground as he jumped out of the car. He faces trial on those charges on March 8.

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