Resentencing orderedBy Rod Ohira
The Hawaii Supreme Court has ruled that a man convicted of killing his grandmother was denied his right to speak before a sentence was imposed and ordered that he be resentenced.
The high court also ordered that Sean Carvalho be resentenced by a judge other than Circuit Judge Richard Perkins, who previously sentenced him.
Carvalho, who caused the death of his grandmother in September 1995 by hitting her with a baseball bat, was convicted of "manslaughter based on reckless conduct."
His sentencing was scheduled for March 20, 1998.
But on March 6, Perkins conducted a hearing on a prosecution's motion for assessment of dangerousness over objections from defense attorneys that if sentencing were delayed beyond Carvalho's 22nd birthday on March 27, he would no longer be eligible for sentencing under the "young adult defendants statute."
On March 20, Perkins postponed sentencing to provide the prosecution's expert witness time to complete the assessment of dangerousness and noted:
"... I am not prepared to say that five years in prison, given the current availability of rehabilitative programs there, is enough either to rehabilitate (Carvalho) or to remove the substantial risk of danger to the public that he now presents.
"Those are my reasons for denying the request for sentencing as a young adult defendant."
The high court ruled "a significant sentencing determination had been reached" on March 20, before Carvalho's final sentencing in June, and that he was not given an opportunity to speak on his behalf or present any information in mitigation of punishment.
In an opinion written by Justice Steven Levinson, the high court says:
"The right of presentence allocution (the defendant's right to speak before sentencing) would become illusory if judges were permitted to construct a sentence one brick at a time, only permitting the defendant to speak before the last piece of the wall was about to be mortared in place.
"Accordingly, we hold that a sentencing court must afford a defendant his or her right of presentence allocution before ruling on the applicability of the young adult defendants statute."