Kauo sentenced for attempted murder

LIHU‘E — A Kapa‘a woman who tried to run over her boyfriend last December was sentenced on Thursday for second-degree attempted murder.

Kehaunani Kauo, 36, was arrested Dec. 15, 2010, for driving into her then-boyfriend Robert Villaros, age 41, and pinning him between her car and a barbed wired fence along Apopo Road late that afternoon. She pleaded no contest to the incident on July 7.

Fifth Circuit Court Chief Judge Randal Valenciano said it was luck that prevented the defendant from committing a more serious injury or death. He said Kauo seemed to have every intention of doing even more harm to the victim.

Kauo was sentenced to 18 months in prison, five year’s probation and will be required to undergo additional psychological and substance abuse assessments and treatment.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Melinda Mendes said the state recommended a 10-year open prison sentence. She requested that domestic violence intervention counseling be included for this more unusual female-on-male violence — but that it is domestic violence just the same.

Mendes said Kauo had understandable reason to be upset with the defendant — hinting that it perhaps involved a relationship triangle. Yet, she said Kauo drove her 1991 Honda station wagon along the road and then aimed the vehicle at her boyfriend with intent to cause serious injury.

Witnesses reported seeing the victim get his legs pinned between the vehicle and the fence. He was treated and released for cuts and bruises suffered from the impact and fall.

Mendes said Kauo’s claim that she did not remember anything of the incident is disputed by officer testimony that she was actively engaged in a telephone call when they came to her home. They described her as in a highly agitated state but coherent, she said.

Mendes described Kauo as a manipulative person, who first blamed others around her for the incident and then said it was from not taking her medications for a clinically mentally ill condition.

More recently, Mendes said Kauo tried to manipulate the conditions of her case and incarceration while in custody with the Department of Corrections.

Kauo’s fitness and capacity for trial was confirmed in June. The state objected to a motion for supervised release on three occasions,  but it was granted on Aug. 1 after 274 days in jail.

State Public Defender Craig Anthony De Costa said eight months in jail and the strong support of family has stabilized Kauo and has helped her focus and prepare her for recovery. He recommended probation with time served.

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

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