Change in law allows deferment in court

LIHU‘E — A change in a mainland law more than a decade ago made it possible for a defendant to qualify for a deferred sentencing in 5th Circuit Court.

Adam T. Sampson pleaded guilty to second-degree unauthorized entry into a dwelling and an amended count of third-degree theft on March 12. He stood before the court Wednesday for a decision on a motion for deferred acceptance that would allow the felony charges to be cleared upon successful completion of felony probation.

County Second Deputy Prosecuting Attorney John Murphy stood in for Samuel Jajich. He said the state did not object to the deferment and said 90 days jail would be appropriate.

State Deputy Public Defender Stephanie Sato noted that Sampson had already served approximately 70 days jail and asked that any further time be suspended with a deferment. She said Sampson is no longer involved in the relationship or circle that influenced the series of mistakes that led to the charges.

Sampson would not have been eligible for a deferment as his record shows a 2000 felony marijuana possession conviction in Nevada. Sato pointed out that within eight months of the conviction, Nevada changed the offense of possession of less than one ounce to a misdemeanor.

At that at time, the state of Hawai‘i regarded the same offense as a petty misdemeanor, Sato said.

Judge Katherine N. A. Watanabe said she would grant the deferral based on the information about the past conviction. She said there was concern about continued addiction and ordered an assessment and any recommended treatment.

The co-defendant in the case, Shirley Pyun-Neri, 44, of Lihu‘e, was denied a deferment at her March 14 sentencing on similar drug charges. She was sentenced to five years of probation, with a year in jail deferred pending a successful probation.

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

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