Tuesday, August 14, 2001

Before Circuit Judge Victoria Marks, Gregory Peregil,
left, apologized yesterday to the family of John Wailehua-Hansen.

Isle man gets
life with parole
for ’97 murder

The sentencing brings distressing
memories for the victim's family

By Debra Barayuga

They spoke of lost hopes, broken dreams and pain to last them a lifetime.

That's all that's left for the five children and family of John Wailehua-Hansen after they learned he had been shot in the back of the head by a man he had trusted.

Circuit Judge Victoria Marks sentenced 41-year-old Gregory Peregil yesterday to a life term with parole for fatally shooting Wailehua-Hansen in March 1997. She also ordered him to serve a mandatory 10 years' imprisonment for using a firearm.

Wailehua-Hansen's remains were recovered from a 12-foot grave in a Waialua sugar cane field in November 1999 -- 2 1/2 years after he disappeared. He was one of four North Shore men who mysteriously disappeared in 1997 and were later linked to convicted former prison guard Styran Rivera, who police say was involved with drugs.

Yesterday, Wailehua-Hansen's family members wept as they described how their prayers that he would recover from his addiction to drugs and reunite with his family were shattered when he disappeared and later was reported murdered.

"My brother was not a good citizen in his last years, but he did not deserve to die," said oldest sister Mary Tsukiyama.

The daughters of the victim, Alicia and Alexis
Wailehua-Hansen, were among family members
on hand to hear Peregil sentenced to life in
prison with the possibility of parole.

Former wife Wendy Wailehua described him as a hardworking and intelligent individual who graduated from the University of Hawaii with a degree in business, joined the Air National Guard as a flight simulator specialist and continued his schooling to study biomedical engineering.

Oldest son Bronson Wailehua-Hansen recalled hanging out with his dad for hours in the garage or on the soccer field. His sister, Alexis Wailehua-Hansen, noted the loss she felt at her father not seeing her graduate from Kamehameha Schools or being able to see her off to college.

"Nothing can be more like a movie than to have your father murdered," she said. She hopes Peregil realizes "how many hearts he has broken and how many dreams he's taken away."

Peregil turned and apologized to the Wailehua-Hansen family and to his family for what he has put them through.

"I ruined the lives of many people, especially the family of John Wailehua-Hansen and his children. For that I'm very, very sorry."

He said he takes full responsibility for what he did.

Peregil pleaded guilty in June to shooting Wailehua-Hansen, but said he did so "because it was either him or me."

But Deputy Prosecutor Kevin Takata said yesterday that Peregil fired not in self-defense, but in cowardice.

Peregil lured an unarmed and trusting Wailehua-Hansen outside a Waialua shack, got behind him and shot him in the back of the head, Takata said. "That is murder -- coldblooded, premeditated murder and nothing less."

Peregil's attorney, Myles Breiner, had said his client was manipulated by one-time friend Rivera, who convinced him that Wailehua-Hansen was out to kill him.

Rivera was convicted of second-degree murder as an accomplice in the deaths of two other men on the North Shore who disappeared the same year as Wailehua-Hansen. Those men, Paris France and Steven Tozon, and Wailehua-Hansen had been involved in Rivera's drug activities, Breiner said.

Rivera received consecutive life terms after the court denied his request to withdraw his guilty plea.

Two associates of Rivera -- Benjamin Tandal and Edward Vidal -- pleaded guilty to murdering France, Tozon and a third man, Tranquilino Bati Jr.

Marks also revoked Peregil's probation yesterday on an unrelated auto theft and ordered him to serve a concurrent five-year term. Peregil was also ordered to pay $4,000 restitution.

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