Judge: Right track, but too soon for release

LIHU‘E — No one is disputing that Robert Willis is doing a wonderful job meeting or exceeding the terms and conditions of his probation. But County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Lisa Arin argued that it is much too soon to be considering an early out of the program.

Fifth Circuit Court Judge Kathleen Watanabe agreed and denied a motion for early discharge from probation on Tuesday.

She congratulated Willis for his efforts and said to continue working with the same motivation on the path that he has set for himself.

Willis, who was seeking release from a five-year probation sentence in the third year, was represented by State Public Defender Stephanie Sato.

She reported that Willis has long-term employment, is in a relationship and living with his girlfriend, is considered a mentor in the substance abuse program, and now teaches a segment of the anger management class.

Arin disputed some of the claims, noting there was conflicting information in the probation officer’s report on employment and residence status. She also noted that Wilson has not yet completed the required substance abuse evaluation and a sex offender treatment program as a requirement of his conviction on first and second degree sexual assaults.

Sato noted that the time Wilson was incarcerated following the July 3, 2008 sentencing is considered credited toward probation time and was  a consideration in the request.

Watanabe reminded Wilson to consider that had he not been meeting the terms and conditions of the HOPE probation program, then he might have disqualified himself and would face a potential of five years for each of the felonies committed in July 2007. She said to stay motivated and complete the rest of the program requirements.

• Tom LaVenture, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or by emailing tlaventure@ thegardenisland.com.

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