Sunday, September 7, 2008
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Fujikawa's father was jailed for assault in '06
By Jim DooleyAdvertiser Staff Writer
Professional golfer Tadd Fujikawa's father Derrick, currently facing felony charges of methamphetamine trafficking, served two days in jail in 2006 in a misdemeanor assault case, court records show.
The assault occurred in December 2005 and Fujikawa was formally charged in February 2006. A criminal complaint said he caused bodily injury to victim Nick Senckowski. No other details of the incident were available. The Prosecuting Attorney's office yesterday would not discuss it.
Fujikawa entered what is called a DANC plea — deferred acceptance of no contest — to the charge in March 2006. That plea results in no criminal record if the defendant completes a specified term of court supervision without further problems with the law.
In Fujikawa's case, District Judge Rhonda Nishimura accepted the DANC plea and ordered the defendant to serve a weekend in jail, one year of court supervision as well as completion of a course in anger management.
He was to serve the two days in jail beginning April 21, 2006, but received a one-week delay after telling the judge that he was assistant coach of the Punahou School judo team and needed to attend a judo meet the afternoon of April 21.
Fujikawa successfully completed his term of court supervision, and the assault case was dismissed in May 2007.
He was indicted in July on two felony counts of first degree methamphetamine trafficking.
Fujikawa allegedly sold more than one-eighth of a gram of the illegal drug to an undercover police officer on Sept. 24 and Oct. 4, 2007.
He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and faces trial the week of Oct. 20.
The trafficking charges are punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
In arrest papers filed in the drug case, Fujikawa said he is a project manager for a local construction firm.
He is free on $50,000 bail pending trial.
Ellen Higuchi, Tadd Fujikawa's maternal grandmother , said she spoke yesterday morning with her daughter, Lori, who is in Switzerland, where Tadd was playing in the Omega European Masters.
"We have no comment, but Tadd is fine," Higuchi said.
Tadd Fujikawa missed the cut at the European Masters.
He had a poor start for the second straight day with bogeys on his first three holes en route to a 72 and a 3-over 145 total, three strokes above the cut.
"Small mistakes cost me the cut. You can't do that on any tour," said Fujikawa, 17. "I had a lot of chances but I couldn't make anything."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Friday, July 4, 2008
Since the punishment is to be served one after the other this reflects consecutive sentence.
Man Gets 4,060 Yrs in Prison for Sex Abuse
Texas man sentenced to 4,060 years in prison for sexually assaulting 3 teenage girls
WEATHERFORD, Texas July 2, 2008 (AP)
A man was sentenced to more than 4,000 years in prison Wednesday for sexually assaulting three teenage girls over two years.
A day after finding James Kevin Pope guilty, jurors sentenced him to 40 life prison terms — one for each sex assault conviction — and 20 years for each of the three sexual performance of a child convictions.
At the request of prosecutors, state District Judge Graham Quisenberry ordered Pope to serve the sentences consecutively, adding up to 4,060 years. He will be eligible for parole in the year 3209, according to the Parker County District Attorney's Office.
"We believe it was a just result," prosecutor Robert DuBoise said, adding that he was "overwhelmed" with the judge's decision to stack the sentences.
Pope, 43, of Springtown, abused the girls for nearly two years. It came to authorities' attention earlier this year after Pope made several inappropriate comments to a friend, who notified Child Protective Services.
During the trial, the teens testified about the abuse, and their sexually explicit photographs were shown as evidence.
But Rick Alley, Pope's defense lawyer, told jurors in closing arguments that the victims were incapable of understanding what happened, the Weatherford Democrat reported in its Wednesday online edition.
"If it was as traumatic as they indicate, they would be able to give you (specific dates and times of the incidents). Simply because it's shocking doesn't make it true," Alley said.
During the sentencing phase of the trial, a U.S. Secret Service agent testified that while examining Pope's home computer, he found more than 200 images of child porn.
Later Wednesday, some jurors said the case was difficult because of the subject matter.
"We were careful not to make any mistakes in viewing and evaluating the evidence," said juror Dale Lewis.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
HONOLULU -- A state judge Monday gave a high school athletic director, who pleaded guilty to marijuana charges, a second chance to go back to teaching.
Brad Kitsu talked about the pain the case has left him with.
"The shame and disappointment I've brought upon my parents, my family, my friends, me, students," he said in court.
Those people Kitsu talked about still supported him at a sentencing with much at stake.
Citing a prior misdemeanor assault case, the prosecutor asked for 60 days in prison and a felony conviction that could end Kitsu's career as teacher and athletic director of the Academy of the Pacific.
"He's already had a chance to keep his record clean. We oppose conditional discharge," Deputy Prosecutor Peter Marrack said.
"This has been the worst year of his life," defense attorney Todd Eddins said.
Kitsu pleaded guilty to possession of an ounce of marijuana and paraphernalia. His case got wide media attention because his friend, former University of Hawaii football player Wayne Morris Roe arranged the mailing of two pounds of marijuana to Kitsu's apartment.
Roe got probation. Kitsu asked the judge to keep the felony off his record to give him a chance to teach again.
"I've dedicated my life to a better community and being a positive influence on people's lives," Kitsu said.
The judge said he was particularly moved by letters from Kitsu's boss at Academy of the Pacific and friends and colleagues who talked about how much good he had done for students and the schools where he worked.
The judge said losing Kitsu as an educator would harm the community.
The president of Academy of the Pacific said she is pleased Kitsu will not have a criminal record. She would not say if she plans to hire him back.
Supreme Court Rejects Death Penalty for Child Rape
By LINDA GREENHOUSE
WASHINGTON — The death penalty is unconstitutional as a punishment for the rape of a child, a sharply divided Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.
The 5-to-4 decision overturned death penalty laws in Louisiana and five other states. The only two men in the country who have been sentenced to death for the crime of child rape, both in Louisiana, will receive new sentences of life without parole.
The court went beyond the question in the case to rule out the death penalty for any individual crime — as opposed to “offenses against the state,” such as treason or espionage — “where the victim’s life was not taken.”
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority, said there was “a distinction between intentional first-degree murder on the one hand and non-homicide crimes against individual persons,” even such “devastating” crimes as the rape of a child, on the other.
The decision was the third in the last six years to place a categorical limitation on capital punishment. In 2002, the court barred the execution of mentally retarded defendants. In 2005, it ruled that the Constitution bars the death penalty for crimes committed before the age of 18.
Nonetheless, despite this trend toward narrowing the application of the death penalty, there was no suggestion from the majority that the court was moving toward the abolition of capital punishment, which Justice John Paul Stevens called for in an opinion two months ago that no other justice joined.
Justice Kennedy said Wednesday that while the court’s death penalty jurisprudence “remains sound,” it should not be expanded to cover a crime for which no one has been executed in the United States for the past 44 years.
The case, Kennedy v. Louisiana, No. 07-343, was an appeal by one of the two Louisiana inmates, Patrick Kennedy. He was convicted and sentenced to death in 2003 for raping his 8-year-old stepdaughter, whose injuries were severe enough to require emergency surgery. The Louisiana Supreme Court upheld Mr. Kennedy’s conviction and rejected his challenge to the constitutionality of his sentence.
The United States Supreme Court prohibited capital punishment for rape in a 1977 case, Coker v. Georgia, in which the victim, while only 16 years old, was married and had the legal status of an adult. It was not clear at the time whether that decision was limited to the rape of an adult woman, or whether it barred the death penalty for any rape. The court on Wednesday treated the issue of capital punishment for child rape as a fresh question, not governed by any existing precedent. As a matter of constitutional analysis, the question in the case was whether the death penalty was so disproportionate to the offense as to amount to cruel and unusual punishment, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. The court’s modern precedents interpret the Eighth Amendment according to “the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.”
Using that benchmark, Justice Kennedy said the majority had reached its conclusion based on “our own independent judgment” about the implications of extending the death penalty to child rape as well as on the fact that the great majority of states have declined to do so.
The Louisiana law extending the death penalty to the rape of children under the age of 12 dates to 1995. The states that followed were Georgia, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas. Unlike Louisiana, those states all require that a defendant have a previous rape conviction or some other aggravating factor in order to be subject to the death penalty, and no one has yet been sentenced to death under any of the laws.
Justice Kennedy said there was thus a national consensus against applying capital punishment for the crime.
In a dissenting opinion, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. sharply disputed this conclusion. He said that because many judges and lawyers had interpreted the 1977 Coker decision as barring capital punishment for any rape, state legislatures “have operated under the ominous shadow” of that decision “and thus have not been free to express their own understanding of our society’s standards of decency.”
The fact that six states in modern times have nonetheless enacted such laws, Justice Alito said, “might represent the beginning of a new evolutionary line” that “would not be out of step with changes in our society’s thinking since Coker was decided.” He said there were abundant indications that society had become more aware of and concerned about sex crimes against children.
Those who voted with Justice Kennedy in the majority were Justice Stevens and Justices David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen G. Breyer. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joined the dissent, along with Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.
Addressing the separate question of the court’s “own judgment,” Justice Kennedy suggested that the flow of death penalty cases for child rape could overwhelm the country’s criminal justice system. He noted that in 2005 there were 5,702 reported rapes of children under the age of 12.
“In this context, which involves a crime that in many cases will overwhelm a decent person’s judgment,” Justice Kennedy said, “we have no confidence that the imposition of the death penalty would not be so arbitrary as to be freakish.”
He continued: “We cannot sanction this result when the harm to the victim, though grave, cannot be quantified in the same way as death of the victim.”
Justice Kennedy also said capital punishment for child rape presented specific problems, including the “special risks of unreliable testimony” by children and the fact that the crime often occurs within families. Families might be inclined to “shield the perpetrator from discovery” when the penalty is death, he said, leading to an increase in the problem of under-reporting of these crimes.
Justice Alito, in his dissenting opinion, said these concerns were “policy arguments” that were “simply not pertinent to the question whether the death penalty is ‘cruel and unusual’ punishment.” He said the Eighth Amendment “does not authorize this court to strike down federal or state criminal laws on the ground that they are not in the best interests of crime victims or the broader society.”
Both presidential candidates criticized the death penalty decision. Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, said: “That there is a judge anywhere in America who does not believe that the rape of a child represents the most heinous of crimes, which is deserving of the most serious of punishments, is profoundly disturbing” He called the decision “an assault on law enforcement’s efforts to punish these heinous felons for the most despicable crime.”
Senator Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, said, “I think that the rape of a small child, 6 or 8 years old, is a heinous crime, and if a state makes a decision under narrow, limited, well-defined circumstances, that the death penalty is at least potentially applicable, that does not violate our Constitution.” He added that the Supreme Court should have set conditions for imposing the death penalty for the crime, “but it basically had a blanket prohibition, and I disagree with the decision.”
In a second decision on Wednesday, the court ruled that the introduction at trial of statements that a murder victim had made to the police violated the constitutional rights of the man who was on trial for killing her.
Before her death, the victim had summoned the police to complain that Dwayne Giles, later charged with her murder, had threatened to kill her. Writing for the court, Justice Scalia said that use of the statement violated Mr. Giles’s Sixth Amendment right to cross-examine the witnesses against him, unless the prosecution could first prove that he deliberately killed a witness was to make her unavailable to testify. Mr. Giles claimed self-defense in the killing.
The vote in the case, Giles v. California, No. 07-6053, was 6 to 3. Justices Breyer, Stevens, and Kennedy dissented. The decision overturned a ruling by the California Supreme Court, which had affirmed Mr. Giles’s murder conviction, but left the state free to try and prove the necessary intent.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
3 finish mental health court
By Nelson Daranciangndaranciang@starbulletin.com
Circuit Judge Michael Wilson called it a "celebration of therapeutic justice." Oahu's mental health court discharged its first three graduates during ceremonies yesterday in the state Supreme Court's courtroom. Wilson, who presided over the ceremony, is the mental health court's presiding judge.
Mental health court is a pilot program of the state Judiciary similar to its drug court. Nonviolent offenders are given the opportunity to avoid jail, and in some cases prosecution, by participating in treatment with court oversight. Anthony Merriweather was the first person to enter mental health court on May 11, 2005.
Merriweather, 49, was facing jail time for violating his probation for theft and credit-card fraud. He said he was homeless and committed the crimes to survive. Merriweather said he got into trouble because he didn't like taking medication to treat his schizophrenia because of its side effects. "Now I just take my medicine and don't worry about it," Merriweather said.
Ronald Labasan was also facing possible jail time for violating his probation for burglary and theft when the court granted his petition to enroll in mental health court Sept. 7, 2005.
Labasan, 43, said he started committing crimes to survive when he was a homeless 16-year-old on Maui and continued into adulthood without break until he entered mental health court. He said his mental illness was brought on by drug use and worsened by his refusal to take his prescribed medication. He also said he continued to abuse methamphetamine and would sometimes combine it with the medication for his mental illness.
"I went berserk," he said. Over the years, Labasan said, he went through two marriages and lost two children to adoption because of his drug use. Graduation releases Merriweather and Labasan from their probation.
Under doctor supervision, Labasan stopped taking medication and no longer abuses ice. He's also a supervisor for an Oahu roofing company. "I'm so glad that they (the court) took a chance on me," Labasan said.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
In the past, the criminal justice system focused on the defendant. Today, criminology is branching out to include victimology (study of victimization, including the relationships between victims and offenders).
It is interesting to note that there are experts who suggest the best solution when a person is in an abusive relationship is to leave. However, there are those who say that leaving can be very lethal.
Leaving abuser can be lethal, experts say
By Rosemarie Bernardorbernardo@starbulletin.com
Both women killed by their partners on Oahu in the past week attempted to escape their abusive relationships, according to family members and friends.
Advocates say battered women should have an exit plan to protect themselves when trying to leave abusive partners.
"Leaving may be the most dangerous time in the relationship," said Carol Lee, executive director of the Hawaii State Coalition Against Domestic Violence. "They need to work with service providers to get safety plans in place and to get assistance in leaving the relationship so that she can do that safely." Seventy-five percent of domestic violence-related homicides occur shortly after the battered woman leaves the relationship, she added.
Janel Tupuola, 29, recently found an apartment and considered filing a restraining order after enduring months of abuse before her ex-boyfriend allegedly brutally beat her to death with a shotgun Wednesday night. They had dated for about two years.
An autopsy performed yesterday on Tupuola determined that she died of "cranial cerebral injuries due to assaultive blunt force trauma to the head," according to the Department of Medical Examiner. The manner of death was classified as a homicide.
Tupuola was a mother of five children between the ages of 1 and 13.
The accused, Alapeti Siuanu Tunoa Jr., 30, is the father of her two youngest children. "There's no way to give words that would adequately capture what it must feel like for a child to lose their mom," said Nanci Kriedman, executive director of the Domestic Violence Action Center. "They will always be living with that hole in their hearts and in their lives."
On Wednesday one man intervened while Tupuola was being beaten, and was hurt when the attacker turned on him. The good Samaritan, in his 60s, was taken by ambulance to Castle Medical Center in stable condition. Other witnesses said they felt frustrated because they could not do anything to stop the attack. City Prosecutor Peter Carlisle said there is a provision in Hawaii law that allows for the protection of others who are at physical risk.
"Let's say the person who is down on the ground has a right of self-defense. And that right of self-defense could extend all the way up to lethal force. The person who is the bystander can use that same level of force if it's reasonable for that victim to use that level of force," Carlisle said. In the second case, the abuse victim told co-workers that she was trying to leave her husband of six months, according to her co-worker Fran Kami.
Two days before Jenny Hartsock, 39, was allegedly stabbed to death Jan. 9 by her husband, Roy William Hartsock, she came to work with a black eye. Kami said she and others offered to open their homes and to take her to a shelter to help her escape her husband. "We tried to intervene," she said. It was not the first time co-workers noticed signs of abuse.
Last year, Hartsock, a data entry office clerk at Mercantile Freight Service, had a scar on the lower part of her leg. Her explanation to co-workers: Her husband fell and accidentally tripped and cut her leg with a knife. "I didn't believe her story," Kami said.