A 24-year-old homeless Hilo man was sentenced Wednesday to five years probation and 18 months in jail after pleading no contest to kidnapping, robbery and vehicle theft.
Under terms of a plea deal between prosecutors and the defense, Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura ruled that if Brandon Paul Hauoli complied with all court-imposed conditions, he would only have to serve a year of the jail term with the remainder taken under advisement and credit for time served. Hauoli has been in jail approximately two months. Hauoli is also eligible for release after six months into an approved substance abuse treatment program.
In exchange for Hauoli’s plea, prosecutors dropped charges of third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug, removing the vehicle identification number from a stolen moped and third-degree theft. The kidnapping charge was also dropped from a Class A felony to a Class B, and the robbery charge was dropped from first-degree to second-degree.
Hauoli has what Deputy Prosecutor Joseph Lee described as a “minor” previous criminal record but no felony convictions. But during sentencing, Nakamura noted that Hauoli could still have been sentenced to extended terms of imprisonment, which would have amounted to 20 years behind bars.
Hauoli declined to address the court during sentencing.
“We felt with the facts of this case as we found them to be that the extended (sentence) was not appropriate,” Lee said afterwards.
“This was not a usual run-of-the-mill type of case. There were some very unusual factors here and because of that, the sentence and the agreement was the appropriate thing to go with. There were a lot of other underlying things that didn’t come up just by reading the police reports.”
According to court documents filed by police, John Stuard, a 40-year-old homeless man, told police that on Nov. 16 at about 4:30 p.m., Hauoli had pulled a knife on him on Puueo Street in Wainaku, put Stuard in handcuffs and made him get into a car.
Stuard told officers he was driven up Waianuenue Avenue to a spot in front of Hilo High School’s track, where Hauoli demanded that Stuard give him money, to which Stuard replied that he didn’t have any. Hauoli then took Stuard’s backpack, emptied it, and stole his medications.
Police wrote that Stuard identified Hauoli through photographs.
Police arrested Hauoli on Feb. 2 at about 8:40 a.m. after a traffic stop on Minoaka Place. Police searched Hauoli and found a glass smoking pipe and a pouch, both containing residue that tested positive for methamphetamine.
Documents state that the moped had been stolen in late January and that the vehicle identification number had been scratched off.
Hauoli’s court-appointed attorney, Cody Frenz, afterwards called the sentence “an appropriate outcome given the facts and circumstances of the case.”
Frenz asked the judge to defer acceptance of Hauoli’s no-contest plea, which would mean Hauoli’s felony conviction would be erased from his record if he satisfactorily completes the terms of his probation. Lee told the judge that Hauoli is eligible for the deferral.
Nakamura noted Frenz’s request for the record but didn’t immediately rule on it.
Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune- herald.com.