Man pleads guilty to threat charges

LIHU‘E — A man accused of sexual assault and kidnapping pleaded guilty earlier this week to amended charges.

Melvin Muriel Kneip pleaded guilty Tuesday to violating a protective order and to second-degree terroristic threatening, two misdemeanor counts that each carry a maximum of one year behind bars and $2,000 in fines.

The charges stem from alleged offenses that were reported to Kaua‘i Police Department officers by the alleged victim in July 2003.

Kneip said before Circuit Court Judge Kathleen Watanabe that he violated the protection order and dumped the contents of the alleged victim’s purse in order to terrorize her.

Watanabe did not accept Kneip’s guilty pleas, and pointed out that his attorney, June Ikemoto, entered a motion that his sentence be deferred.

Watanabe ordered a pre-sentencing investigation done on Kneip. She also ordered Kneip to return to court on Feb. 23 for her decision on the motion to defer, and/or sentencing.

Ikemoto asked that her client’s bail of $50,000 be reduced because of the reduced charges. County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jennifer Winn did not object, and she said that standard bail for the reduced charges would be $1,100.

Watanabe granted the request to reduce bail.

Kneip was indicted by members of a Kaua‘i grand jury in November 2004 of three counts of first-degree sexual assault, three counts of third-degree sexual assault, and one count of kidnapping.

He was also charged with two counts of first-degree terroristic threatening, and with one count of third-degree assault.

If he was convicted on all counts, Kneip could have been sent to prison for a maximum of 106 years.

According to the plea agreement, count one of the indictment, the first-degree sexual assault charges, were amended to violating the protective order. The third-degree assault charge was amended to second-degree terroristic threatening.

The remaining charges will be dropped, according to the plea agreement.

Also according to the plea agreement, Kneip and the alleged victim had mutual Family Court restraining orders in place that prohibit contact between Kneip and the alleged victim.

If a judge orders incarceration, according to the plea agreement, computation of time needing to be served will include time Kneip served in custody pending extradition back to Kaua‘i.

A judge does not have to go along with the plea agreement that was worked out between Kneip, Ikemoto, and attorneys in the county prosecutor’s office.

Kneip, 46, was arrested in December 2004 in Texas, according to court records. He is free after posting $50,000 bail.

According to court records, Kneip was living in Kapa‘a at the time of the alleged offenses.

According to court records, the alleged victim reported to KPD officers that she was sexually assaulted by Kneip on July 14 and 16, 2003.

Kneip’s jury trial had been scheduled to start next week.

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