Circuit Court proceedings for March 20

Fifth Circuit Court Judge Nakea became something of a comedian Thursday halfway through proceedings as the court clerk had to change a videotape, interrupting defendant Wendy Chang in the middle of her statement explaining sovereign citizenship that precludes her from being prosecuted in a state court.

“We don’t want anyone to miss what you were saying,” he said.

“No foreign court has authority” to convict her based on international laws against kidnapping and her own lack of knowledge of the foreign laws under which she faces prosecution, she told the judge.

“Sounds like you’re telling me I’m in big trouble,” Nakea said, causing those awaiting judgments in the still-full courtroom to burst into laughter.

Chang is charged with abuse of a family/household member, property damage and harassment. She is scheduled to appear back in court in April to discuss a plea agreement and to decide whether she wants representation from the public defender’s office.

Several people accepted plea agreements in order to have some charges dismissed and to avoid trial. Deputy Prosecutor Craig De Costa represented the State of Hawai’i.

  • Kenneth Gross, 43, accepted guilt for robbing the Puhi Thrifty Mart convenience store on Dec. 14. According to police records, Gross entered the store wearing a ski mask and wielding a rebar. He is charged with threatening cashiers and asking for money from the cash register, plus struggling with them while stealing their purses.

    Shopkeeper Rick Anderson heard the commotion and came to the rescue of the cashiers. When he unmasked the robber, the cashiers recognized him as a regular customer. They later picked his picture out of a photographic lineup.

    Gross was originally charged with two counts of first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary and attempted fourth-degree theft ($1-100). He was scheduled to stand trial this week, but instead took the plea deal. He pleaded to one robbery charge and all others were dropped. He will be sentenced May 22 and faces 5 years imprisonment.

  • Chase Collins, 18, and Ansen Davis, 22, both pleaded to breaking into a car and trespassing on C. Lee’s Towing’s baseyard Jan. 25 at about 6 p.m. In the agreement, a third charge of attempted second-degree theft was dropped.

    Police records show that company owner Clifford Lee saw two young men break into a 2002 Toyota Corolla and attempting to remove a passenger seat. Lee called police, and they all witnessed the youths remove the seat. When apprehended, Collins admitted they broke in by climbing over a pushed-down section of fence. Davis admitted that they removed the driver seat before they had been spotted.

    Collins is set to be sentenced May 22, and Davis on May 29. Both face a maximum of six years but may be eligible for deferments to restore their records should they abide by court-imposed requirements, which normally include probation and fines.

  • Michelle B. Gushiken, 34, and Mason Gushiken, 51, both pleaded guilty to defrauding the state Department of Human Services of food stamp and welfare benefits from April 2000-Sept. 2002.

    By entering false information on an application and not reporting $7,200 income, they committed crimes of theft and unsworn falsification to authorities. They both pleaded to eight counts of unsworn falsification to authorities, misdemeanor offenses. As part of the plea deal they will have to pay $3,000 and disqualify themselves from welfare before sentencing on June 5.

  • Daniel Saylor, 20, and Sebastian Sparrowhawk, 21, both pleaded to keeping firearms in the wrong place and not in a secure container.

    Last Sept. 30 at Princeville Ranch, a trailguide heard a gunshot that seemed to come from a nearby ravine, where he saw an unattended truck. Police later apprehended two young men, who gave consent to search their vehicle. Police found two unloaded rifles behind the seat. One was a 20-gauge New England shotgun, the other was a 40-caliber Harrington Richardson rifle.

    They are both eligible for deferments and will receive judgment on June 5. State law does not require them to surrender the rifles.

  • Benjamin Fernandes, 23, admitted to trespassing and assault for breaking into a house his ex-girlfriend was staying in and fighting with another man at about 5:50 a.m. on Nov. 21, 2002.

    The plea agreement reduced a charge of first-degree burglary, a crime punishable by a maximum of 10 years imprisonment, to a misdemeanor charge or criminal trespassing, punishable by up to a year. He pleaded as charged to third-degree assault, punishable by up to 30 days in jail.

    He admitted to sneaking into Gavin Galvez’ house through a sliding door because he thought his girlfriend was in there, and said he was mad at her for not doing something the day before. Galvez asked him to leave but he didn’t, hitting the man in the jaw instead. Fernandes is to be sentenced June 5.

  • Randall Honjo, who began serving a five-year sentence last October for sexual molestation, was in court to request a reconsideration of his sentence.

    Last August, Honjo, 45, admitted to one count of third-degree sexual assault, or sexual contact against one of his daughters. He was originally charged for abusing both his daughters with 52 counts of second-degree sexual assault and one count of continuous sexual penetration/contact on a minor under the age of 14.

    Public defender Peter Kea wanted to enter a five-page statement from Honjo, but due to the “rustic conditions of the jail” he couldn’t read it, and it would take too long for Honjo himself to read the writing due to its illegibility. Kea asked for a few days to get the statement transcribed.

  • Christine Cabinatan-Sugimura was sentenced for stealing about $2,600 from her employer Colette Johnson, owner of the Subway sandwiches shop at Ching Young Village in Hanalei.

“I’m sorry for what I did. I learned my lesson and I know better than to hang around with the wrong people,” Cabinatan-Sugimura said.

Her attorney Al Castillo said a man “used her to get the money, in her mind, she didn’t want Collette Johnson’s place to get trashed.” Without Cabinatan-Sugimura’s cooperation, the store would not have recovered receipts that upped the theft amount to $2,600-3,000, he said.

Nakea denied her request for a deferment and sentenced her to time served and $2,500 restitution, as well as a $100 fee to the crime victims’ compensation fund and $150 to pay for probation services. She must also complete 500 hours of community service.

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