Machete suspect
shows in court

The 16-year-old Kauai suspect
is likely to plead guilty

LIHUE » The Kauai teenager who allegedly came after his teacher with a machete will likely plead guilty in early July to attempted assault, according to court proceedings yesterday.

Andrew Sarita, 16, was quiet yesterday as he answered Lihue District Judge Trudy Senda's questions, answering just "yes" and "no" as he waived his right to a preliminary hearing to establish probable cause in the case. He was quickly whisked out of court after his appearance.

Sarita, accompanied by his lawyer, deputy public defender James Itamura, agreed to waive the hearing as part of plea negotiations, according to the court proceeding. Sarita is expected to plead guilty to attempted first-degree assault and second-degree criminal property damage charges before the end of July. He currently faces an attempted-murder charge as well as two other felonies.

Itamura said after the court proceeding that the guilty plea is likely at Sarita's next court date, July 7 in Circuit Court.

"We will focus our case mostly on the sentencing phase," Itamura said. "He and his guardians feel it was the best thing to do."

Sarita could get a maximum of 15 years' imprisonment -- 10 years for the assault charge and five years for the damage charge -- if he takes the plea deal. But he was facing a life sentence if he was found guilty of the attempted-murder charge.

The deal "is a fair and just resolution," said Kauai Prosecuting Attorney Craig De Costa, "taking into account the facts of the case and (Sarita's) circumstances," including his age.

De Costa also said that as part of the plea deal, Itamura will be unable to ask for probation, which would carry a one-year prison term.

Sarita will also admit to the circumstances of a pending juvenile case that involved the alleged victim in this case as well.

Just last week, a family court judge waived jurisdiction in the case, allowing prosecutors to charge Sarita as an adult.

According to prosecutors, last November, Sarita, who supposed to be on suspension and house arrest, came to the grounds of Kauai High School after school and went after his teacher, Timothy O'Rourke, with a machete. After O'Rourke escaped injury, Sarita slashed the tires and broke all the windows of his truck before running off.

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