Advertisement - Click to support our sponsors.

Thursday, September 7, 2000

Man pleads guilty in
New Year’s Eve slaying

By Debra Barayuga

Rodrigo Ababa had received his General Equivalency Diploma, had been accepted into the Air Force Academy and was looking forward to a bright future, his attorney said.

Instead, he now faces a prison term of up to 20 years, with a mandatory minimum of 10 years, for recklessly causing the death of another man New Year's Eve in Kapalama.

In a soft, muffled voice, Ababa, 18, yesterday pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter in a shooting that killed Richard Tambua, 22, and also injured Donald Kamaka, 24.

Ababa agreed to plead guilty to the lesser charge because he wanted to take responsibility for his actions, his court-appointed attorney, Myles Breiner, said outside the courtroom.

"He feels tremendous remorse about what happened and wants to tell the truth," Breiner said.

Incarceration has been "hard" on Ababa, who has no prior history of problems, Breiner said. "This came as a tremendous shock -- he's not happy about his involvement."

Ababa, charged with second-degree murder, first-degree attempted murder, second-degree attempted murder and firearms possession, would have faced life without parole had he been convicted as charged. The remaining charges will be dropped at his sentencing on Nov. 1.

Even if Ababa is sentenced to the mandatory maximum, he still has a shot at starting anew upon his release, Breiner said. Ababa is eligible for youth offender treatment.

Deputy Prosecutor Russ Uyehara declined to comment on the sealed plea agreement, other than to note that after reviewing the strengths and weaknesses of the case, "it was in the prosecution's best interest."

Ababa is expected to testify against his cousin, Harvey Ababa, who awaits trial on identical charges in the same shooting. The state is expected to appeal a decision by another judge to suppress certain statements made by Harvey Ababa, which may delay the trial until next year, said his attorney, deputy public defender Todd Eddins.

Rodrigo Ababa does not dispute he handled a gun that night and that it discharged, but it is unknown who fired the fatal shot, Breiner said.

Ababa was celebrating with friends that night and was two days away from entering the academy. He and his cousin were among a group of men who approached another group of men on Wolter Lane after learning they had been challenged to a fight. Witnesses identified the Ababa cousins as both holding guns.

E-mail to City Desk

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2000 Honolulu Star-Bulletin