Prosecution adds attempted murder

LIHU‘E — It’s not getting any easier for Nicole Gonsalves. In less than a week she caught her boyfriend cheating, was arrested for assaulting him, and now is facing charges that could land her behind bars for life with the possibility of parole.

The Kaua‘i Police Department on June 14 arrested the 25-year-old Lawa‘i woman after an incident that sent Robert Neal Ballard to the hospital with a knife wound on his left leg.

She initially faced five charges: first-degree burglary, third-degree assault, first-degree terroristic threatening, first-degree assault and attempted unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle. When she was arraigned Thursday the prosecution added a charge of first-degree unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle.

At the preliminary hearing Tuesday the prosecution replaced the first-degree assault charge with second-degree attempted murder, and added a second-degree assault charge.

Handcuffed and wearing orange garments from Kaua‘i Community Correctional Center, Gonsalves’ cries echoed throughout the court room the entire hearing. With a paper tissue in her hands, she wiped her tears away and tilted her head back and forth.

Attorney Michael Soong, representing Gonsalves, asked the court to strike the amended charge. He said the second-degree attempted murder charge came at the last minute, there were many details not disclosed to the defense and that Ballard’s wound is “only a substantial body injury, not serious.” He said the wound does not represent risk of death or disfigurement.

County Prosecutor Lisa Arin said she shared all the information supplied by KPD.

“I don’t think dismissing the amended complaint is appropriate right now,” said Arin, adding that the victim’s injuries are “significant enough for assault in the first-degree charges.” She said there were also details of the attack that the prosecution did not know.

Arin said Ballard, 30, was first questioned at Wilcox Memorial Hospital. Further investigation revealed there were additional attempts to stab other parts of Ballard’s body, she said.

Ballard appeared in court dragging his wounded leg. The underside of his eyes were swollen; the right one was red and the left was purple. He also had a large scrape on his left temple.

District Judge Trudy Senda said state law gives the right to the defendant for a preliminary hearing in 48 hours after being arraigned. Gonsalves arraignment was on Thursday. Friday was a furlough day for state workers, so Tuesday was the deadline for the hearing.

The defense said Gonsalves would waive her right to a preliminary hearing so Soong could ask Senda to strike the amended charge, giving the court time to consider.

As Senda asked Gonsalves if she understood what was going on and if her mind was clear, the accused woman answered with a faint “yes,” muffled by her crying.

Senda scheduled the preliminary hearing to continue at 1 p.m., June 29, when she expects to rule on Soong’s request to strike the attempted murder charge in its entirety.

Altercation

The prosecution claims Gonsalves showed up at Ballard’s home at about 3:10 a.m. on Tuesday, and after an altercation with him and another woman, she stabbed her boyfriend in his left leg.

Gonsalves’ mother, Laura Menezes, said Monday that her daughter lived in the same house as Ballard, and came home to find him cheating on her with another woman.

Menezes stood by her story even after being told that First Deputy Prosecutor Jake Delaplane said Ballard’s landlord had provided a written statement saying Gonsalves no longer lived in the house.

Menezes said she filed a request for a Temporary Restraining Order against Ballard on Thursday.

On Tuesday, outside the courtroom, Menezes said she had no comment.

History

Ballard and Gonsalves have a history of convictions and arrests on Kaua‘i.

Gonsalves, 5’2” and 214 lbs., was convicted April 5 of third-degree assault, a misdemeanor. She was sentenced to pay a $250 fine and $55 for a criminal injury compensation fee.

Ballard, 5’9” and 180 lbs., was convicted Sept. 7, 2010, of fourth-degree theft, a petty misdemeanor. He was sentenced to 50 hours of community service.

Ballard was also arrested on Nov. 19, 2009, for family abuse, but no charges were filed, according to the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney.

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