By JOHN BURNETT
Tribune-Herald staff writer
A 73-year-old Hawaiian Beaches man who shot a Panaewa woman four times on Mother’s Day 2012 after she broke off a relationship with him was sentenced Thursday to 25 years in prison.
Joseph Amormino Sr., a retired Hawaii Community Correctional Center guard, pleaded guilty Sept. 19 to first-degree assault, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony and two counts of terroristic threatening for the May 13, 2012, shooting of June Shirshac, a 57-year-old former greeter at the Hilo Walmart store, and a road rage incident on Highway 130 as Amormino drove from Hawaiian Beaches to the Auwae Road home, where Shirshac lives with former husband Francis Makaiwi — who was also home at the time of the shooting.
Amormino’s son, Joseph Jr., and his family were in the courtroom. The younger Amormino testified in a preliminary hearing May 18, 2012, his father stopped by his Hawaiian Beaches home before driving to Shirshac’s home and he was drunk and angry.
Prior to his plea deal with prosecutors, Amormino was charged with attempted murder, which carries a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment with the possibility of parole upon conviction.
The surprise guilty plea came three weeks into Amormino’s trial and immediately after Shirshac, who sustained gunshot wounds to both legs and her right hand and shoulder, spent three days on the witness stand. She was escorted in and out of the courtroom in a wheelchair.
Under cross examination by Amormino’s lawyer, Deputy Public Defender Michael Ebesugawa, Shirshac came across as a calculating opportunist who took advantage of a recently widowed man who lavished money and gifts on her.
She testified Amormino gave her and paid for credit cards, $15,000 in cash he borrowed using his pickup truck as collateral, and an engagement ring she wore — even though she had no intention of marrying him.
At sentencing, Deputy Prosecutor Shaunda Liu told the court 25 years “is a reasonable resolution for Mr. Amormino’s actions.”
“His actions left Mrs. Shirshac with a significant impairment of her bodily function. She is unable to walk without aid. She has lost full use of her right arm. … She does live in constant pain and she has lost her ability to work.”
Liu said she had not heard “any kind of sorrow or regret from Mr. Amormino for his actions” and it appeared Amormino’s defense was to attempt to justify his shooting of Shirshac.
Amormino addressed the court and said he wanted to “apologize to June Shirshac and her family for what I did.”
“The prosecutor says I showed no remorse which is not right,” he said. “Because first six weeks I was (in jail), I had so much remorse that I couldn’t hardly eat. I lost 35 pounds in six weeks because I couldn’t eat. Then, I saw a prison psychiatrist because the walls was coming in on me and stuff. …
“I know June. She’s a strong girl. And when she’s set on something, she goes after it tenaciously until she gets it. … It won’t be long until she gets a lot better. I hope someday she’ll try to find it in her heart to forgive me, because if not, the stress of that and all her injuries is gonna eat her up on the inside. Then, she’ll be nothing but a shell like I am now.”
By the time he finished speaking, Amormino was fighting back tears.
While passing sentence, Hilo Circuit Judge Glenn Hara said Amormino was a devoted family man for most of his life and Amormino’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren “looked up to you and adored you as being the head of the family.”
“In great part, Mr. Amormino, I think you’re here today because of your refusal to address the fact that you had a great loss and you needed to deal with it other than by hitting the bottle,” the judge said.
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.