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Wednesday, May 10, 2000

Gang-rape trial ends in
prison term, probation

By Debra Barayuga


One man convicted in the 1998 gang-rape of a 17-year-old girl is sentenced to prison while another defendant receives probation.

Judge Sandra Simms yesterday sentenced Mario Crawley, 28, to two 10-year terms for second-degree assault and second-degree attempted assault, to be served concurrently.

Habib Shabazz, 22, was given probation and allowed to return to the Big Island, but not before Simms delivered a stinging rebuke and a promise to lock him up if he fails to abide by the court's conditions.

Mug shots

"If you screw this up, you will be at Halawa (Community Correctional Facility)," Simms said.

The two were convicted by a jury in March of lesser sexual assault charges in the October 1998 attack at a Waikiki hotel room. The men contended the sex was consensual.

The state had argued the girl exercised poor judgment by agreeing to go to their hotel room, but that didn't mean she lost her right to say "No" to sex.

Crawley yesterday said he is appealing the conviction and that more of the truth has yet to be revealed.

Crawley's attorney, Michael Green, yesterday argued that the facts in the case did not warrantan extended or consecutive term. Crawley is currently serving time for a firearms offense.

Deputy Prosecutor Jean Ireton noted that Crawley's past shows a history of "thumbing his nose at the court" and asked that he serve an extended 20-year term of incarceration, to be served consecutively, and a minimum three years and four months for being a repeat felony offender.

Simms noted that while the jury did not convict the men of first-degree sex assault as charged, "there is credible evidence on the record to support their finding" for second-degree assault.

While the facts about the incident were "disturbing, offensive," she agreed with Green that it didn't rise to a level that called for an extended sentence.

Simms did feel, however, that Crawley deserved a minimum term of imprisonment of three years and four months.

It will be up to the Hawaii Paroling Authority to decide how long he will actually serve.

As for Shabazz, the state contended that his refusal to take responsibility for his actions or acknowledge that the incident happened "argued strongly for prison time," Ireton said. Shabazz was on probation for a burglary conviction on the Big Island that occurred shortly after he turned 18.

Shabazz, Crawley and a codefendant who was acquitted have been identified as belonging to Abyss, whose members have been arrested for promoting prostitution and drugs.

What angered her most, Simms said, was that Shabazz had the resources and supportive family that many other defendants who come before her don't have, but he didn't take advantage of it.

"You blew off your family, you blew off this court," she told Shabazz.

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