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Man pleads guilty to robbery, assault

A 32-year-old Kona man pleaded guilty Tuesday to second-degree robbery and felony assault for his role in a home invasion last year in Puna.

Dustin Jose is scheduled to be sentenced at 1 p.m. July 22 before Hilo Circuit Judge Glenn Hara. As part of a plea deal with prosecutors, a first-degree burglary charge was dropped. Jose is also to enter no-contest pleas in an unrelated Kona case to two counts of third-degree sexual assault. In the Kona case, Jose was originally charged with first-degree sexual assault, two counts of third-degree sexual assault and continuous sexual assault of a minor younger than 14.

He’s expected to receive a 10-year sentence on the robbery charge. All other charges he pleaded or will plead to carry possible five-year sentences, and all sentences are to run concurrently.

First-degree sexual assault and continuous sexual assault of a minor are crimes that carry possible 20-year prison terms.

Jose, 32-year-old Jack Vaughn of Kona, and a third, unidentified man, all wearing masks, reportedly pulled onto the Hawaiian Paradise Park property of Claudine Prados in a pickup truck July 12 and attacked Prados, her 9-year-old son and the boy’s father, Clayton Mahi.

Prados fought back, trying to protect her son by hitting Vaughn over the head several times with a meat cleaver. She followed the men — who took her purse and checkbook and a backpack with her son’s clothes — outside, and threw a can of pork-and-beans at the truck as it left. The can landed in the truck bed and police found it when they pulled the vehicle over later that night in Kurtistown and arrested Vaughn and Jose.

Hara asked Jose what happened that night. Reading from a prepared statement pointed to by Jose’s attorney, Deputy Public Defendant Zachary Wingert, Jose said: “I participated in a robbery. Force was used with intent to steal …”

Deputy Prosecutor Kevin Hashizaki told the judge Jose was the pickup’s driver.

“There was a plan to commit a robbery upon the occupants of that residence. It turned out to be the wrong residence,” he said. “… When these three individuals turned up to commit the robbery, two of the individuals got out of the car, assaulted Mr. Mahi, slammed his head into the ground. … Mr. Mahi did suffer a broken orbital bone to his face.

“The two other individuals went into the house. One of them, Jack Vaughn, was engaged in an assault against Miss Prados.”

Hashizaki said the unidentified man stole Prados’ purse and checkbook.

Vaughn, a former combat marine who served two tours of duty in Iraq, pleaded guilty in March to first-degree burglary, second-degree robbery and two counts of misdemeanor assault. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison May 6.

Vaughn’s attorney, Bill Heflin, said during Vaughn’s sentencing his client refused to name the third suspect out of fear.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-


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