LIHU‘E — A Hanapepe man received probation for obstructing the apprehension of a runaway teen.
Bronson Howard, 30, received a year of probation and 100 hours of community service Thursday from 5th Circuit Court Chief Judge Randal Valenciano. The sentence came after Howard on Aug. 1 entered a change-of-plea of no contest for second-degree hindering prosecution.
Valenciano was concerned with Howard’s written statements in the change of plea agreement. He made sure that the defendant was ready to plea or to request a trial and have his day in court.
County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Lisa Arin said Howard is a grown man who initiated a relationship with an underage girl who has just now turned 18. She said Howard was out of line with interfering in the rightful role of parents and police in apprehending the runaway.
Arin recalled the incident report that stated the girl was with Howard in his vehicle when he was pulled over by a Kaua‘i Police Officer. When the officer moved away from the car, Howard allegedly opened his door and let the teen run from the scene.
In his statement Howard said he believed that he was acting in the best interest of protecting his girlfriend during an emotionally difficult time and that he feared she was suicidal. Looking back he said his actions would have been different and that he now understands what the police officer was attempting to do
State Public Defending Attorney Christian Enright said that despite appearances, the girl has now turned 18 and that the unconventional relationship is sincere. He said the two plan to get married and that he has a full-time business.
Valenciano said Howard brought this situation on himself when he made the decision to initiate a relationship with an underage girl. Now that the girl is of-age he said the parents can no longer report her as a runaway.
Valenciano granted the Enright’s motion to defer sentencing over the objection of the state. He ordered Howard to one-year’s probation, time-served and 100 hours of community service.