By JOHN BURNETT
Tribune-Herald staff writer
A 23-year-old Puna man prosecutors say raped a stranded woman driver after picking her up hitchhiking pleaded no contest Tuesday to kidnapping and second-degree theft.
In exchange for his plea, prosecutors dropped two first-degree sex assault charges against John Tak. Tak’s five-year probation in a previous felony credit card fraud case was revoked as part of the plea deal. He is scheduled to be sentenced on both the current case and on the probation revocation on April 4 at 8 a.m. before Hilo Circuit Judge Glenn Hara.
The judge said he intends to follow the plea deal, which calls for 18 months of jail time with all but six months suspended, as long as Tak complies with terms of probation and doesn’t commit another crime.
The kidnapping charge carries a possible 10-year prison term, while second-degree theft is punishable by up to five years in prison. First-degree sex assault carries a possible 20-year prison sentence.
Asked by the judge what the state would prove if the case were to go to trial, Deputy Prosecutor Jason Skier, who was pinch-hitting for Deputy Prosecutor Shannon Kagawa, replied: “On Aug. 4, 2010, … the victim’s vehicle was giving her problems, she was stuck on the side of the highway on Highway 11 attempting to hitchhike. A male party who turned out to be the defendant in a red vehicle pulled over (and) offered to give her a ride. While on Road E, defendant forced the victim into the back of the vehicle, would not allow her to leave the vehicle, and had non-consensual sex with her. When defendant was done, he pushed her out of the car without pieces of her clothing, left her on the side of the road. Defendant took her purse and her cell phone and later discarded some of those items. Bystanders found the victim in a frightened state on the side of the road.”
Police arrested Tak more than a year after the incident, and police Capt. Randall Medeiros, then-commander of the Criminal Investigation Division, told the Tribune-Herald in August 2011 that DNA evidence taken from the victim was sent to the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS.
“While I can’t go into specific details of test results, what I can say is that the information was received from CODIS and that part of this information was used for us to secure a search warrant as part of the investigation…,” Medeiros said at the time.
A 2008 state law provides that anyone who is convicted of a felony, or who pleads guilty or no contest to a felony or who is found not guilty by reason of insanity must submit a DNA sample to law enforcement authorities.
Tak’s attorney, Stanton Oshiro, has requested a deferred acceptance of Tak’s no contest pleas, which means the conviction would be wiped off the record if Tak successfully completed the probation without getting into any further trouble with the law.
Skier told the judge he doesn’t believe Tak is eligible for the deferral due to his prior felony conviction.
Hara told Tak that a plea deferral would be a “favorable” outcome for him and noted the “controversy” over whether Tak is eligible. He accepted Tak’s request, but didn’t rule on it.
Asked afterward why a plea deal was offered, Kagawa refused to go into specifics, saying that Tak could withdraw his plea before sentencing.
“There are facts and circumstances that we thought this was the best decision for this case,” she said.
Tak is free on $91,000 bail.
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.