Driver sentenced
to 10 years in prison

A Maui woman was convicted
of DUI and causing a fatal crash

Associated Press

WAILUKU >> A Maui judge sentenced a woman to 10 years in prison Thursday for a crash that killed a Kula man, but not before questioning how she had escaped serving more time for four previous drunken-driving convictions.

Police said Wanda B. Ishimine of Wailuku, 52, was driving with a suspended license before her Ford Bronco crossed the yellow line on Haleakala Highway and slammed into the car driven by Noboru "Nobu" Agena on May 19, 2000. Her blood-alcohol level was 0.104 percent after the crash.

Agena, 58, who owed a real estate firm, died at Maui Memorial Medical Center.

During Thursday's sentencing hearing, Circuit Judge Shackley Raffetto questioned why Ishimine had not been given longer sentences for the four previous drunken-driving convictions.

"There's no question she's almost like a loaded gun in the community," Raffetto said. "With this kind of behavior, she was bound to cause somebody some injury -- in this case, death and serious injury -- if she wasn't stopped."

Ishimine had pleaded no contest to first-degree negligent homicide, second-degree negligent injury, habitually driving under the influence of alcohol, failure to drive on the right side of the road and driving while her license was suspended for drunken driving.

Ishimine acknowledged her error in court Thursday. "Forgive me, and I'm sorry to everybody," she said.

Ishimine's attorney, Richard Gronna, said she had undergone counseling and treatment since the fatal crash. He noted that the judge had the option of placing her on probation.

But Deputy Prosecutor Carson Tani argued for the prison term, saying Ishimine had ignored previous court orders not to drive and to seek help for her alcohol abuse.

"This defendant has been given so many opportunities to address the problem, and she disregarded all the warning signals," Tani said.

The judge noted that Ishimine has four prior drunken-driving convictions, two convictions for driving while her license was suspended or revoked, and two convictions for driving while her license was suspended for driving under the influence of alcohol.

"From her record, she's been heading in the direction of being self-destructive for a long, long time," Raffetto said. "I don't understand why she wasn't given much longer jail sentences previously. That could have given her a wake-up call. It's unfortunate."

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