Koloa man gets probation

LIHU‘E — A Koloa man was sentenced to probation Wednesday for a case involving kidnapping and other charges related to violating restraining orders.

Bernaldo Bidal Duarte Jr., 50, was sentenced Wednesday in 5th Circuit Court to five years’ probation for kidnapping, unauthorized control of a vehicle, violating protective orders, terroristic threats, family abuse and resisting arrest. He will serve the maximum 18 months in jail for a class B felony sentencing.

Duarte has served 13 months at Kaua‘i Community Correctional Center awaiting trial on four cases and will get credit for time served. This is his first felony conviction.

Judge Kathleen Watanabe of the 5th Circuit listened to very different sentencing recommendations from defense counsel and the prosecution.

Deputy public defender Christian Enright described Duarte as a candidate for Hawai‘i Opportunity Probation with Enforcement, or HOPE, a probation program for serious offenders with a “higher level of accountability.” He said HOPE offers needed programs and supervision. HOPE offenders are closely monitored and supervised. A violation leads to an arrest and review for possible re-sentencing.

County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Lisa Arin argued for consecutive sentencing for a total of 15 years in combination with all the charges.

Arin read a letter from Duarte’s ex-wife who was in court. She asked for the maximum sentence and said she feared for herself and her daughter.

In the letter read by Arin, the woman described escaping from her kidnapping while in route to a cane field where she said she expected to die. In his sentencing statement, Duarte turned around and apologized to his ex-wife, saying he would not attempt to violate the restraining order again. He also apologized to the Kaua‘i Police Department for placing officers in danger.

Watanabe said there were two disparate positions in this case and that the law does not offer the court discretion she preferred. She questioned attorneys on likely outcomes before ruling on probation or prison.

After pleading guilty to charges that are not in dispute, Enright said he did not agree with additional testimony that cannot be cross-examined. He said Duarte is fighting mental illness and that probation is appropriate given his record, remorse and need for treatment.

Arin argued that repeated violations and disrespect for law enforcement indicate that Duarte is a threat to the victims and the community. She said the parole board would determine the conditions of a possible early release.

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