A 35-year-old Hilo man accused of running over his girlfriend with his car in December was sentenced to two years in jail for that assault, an unrelated assault, and bail jumping.
Justin Keola Lee was also sentenced Thursday to four years probation by Hilo Circuit Judge Glenn Hara. He will be given credit for time already served.
In a deal with prosecutors, Lee pleaded guilty April 25 to second-degree assault, third-degree assault, second-degree property damage and bail jumping.
Lee, a convicted felon, faced a possible five-year prison term.
Lee’s then-girlfriend, Mary Raquedan, reported she and Lee were arguing the evening of Dec. 9. She said Lee got into his car and was backing out of the driveway at their Haili Street home, and she ran to the gate to close it in an attempt to prevent him from leaving.
Raquedan was reportedly struck by the vehicle in her buttocks and lower back, fell and was pushed beneath the car, suffering a burn to her back and abrasions to her knees and arms. She was later diagnosed with a spinal fracture to her neck and was medevaced to Oahu for further treatment.
One of two deputy public defenders representing Lee, Jeff Ng, dropped a bombshell in court, revealing Lee “got married to the complaining witness” and said “it looks like his life is heading in the right direction.”
The other defense attorney, Zachary Wingert, asked the judge to grant Lee a delay in serving his jail term.
“Mr. Lee does have a niece who just graduated from Hilo High School,” he said. “She has a graduation celebration July 26. We are asking to delay (jail) after that date. This is very important for Mr. Lee and his family.”
Deputy Prosecutor Shannon Kagawa requested Lee be sent to jail immediately.
“I realize that graduation is important but it’s not a reason for (jail) to be delayed,” she said. “He was out of custody when she graduated from Hilo High School.”
She added that he has had an opportunity to congratulate his niece.
Lee addressed the court and said he’s “trying to be responsible” for his actions.
“I got married so I’m putting my life back together, staying out of trouble,” he said.
Hara said Lee had committed “a lot of violent acts … in a very brief amount of time.”
“You’re 35 years old. I’d expect a lot more mature behavior,” the judge said. “Where’s this all coming from, this violence?”
“I still working on that,” Lee replied.
“… Where’s the anger all coming from? What are you angry at?” Hara asked. “… It seems your anger changes quickly to rage and your rage changes into violence. At least in my mind, you’re a dangerous person to society if you can’t control those feelings.”
The judge ordered Lee to not contact the victims in the unrelated assault case, Michelle Kaio and Ricky Espejo, and denied his request to delay his jail time.
“Mr. Lee, I’m gonna be honest with you. I don’t think it’s a good idea,” he said. “… My fear, Mr. Lee, is that you’ll go to the party and you’ll be in violation of terms of your probation, which is no drugs or alcohol. My primary concern’s the alcohol part of that.”
Lee’s wife, Mary, was present and the couple embraced before sheriff’s deputies took Lee into custody. After the hearing, she said she loves him.
“He and I were in an unfortunate situation. We’ve both learned our lesson,” she said.
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.