LIHUE — A former Kauai police officer who broke into the Kapaa home of “South Park” co-creator Randolph “Trey” Parker nearly four years ago was sentenced to a year in jail and five years probation on Wednesday in 5th Circuit Court.
Joseph Genaro Bonachita, 45, of Hanapepe, received felony probation for unlawful place to keep a firearm that was discovered in his vehicle during his arrest. He received concurrent six-month jail sentences with probation on two misdemeanor charges of first-degree criminal trespass and second-degree terroristic threatening.
“It is appropriate that this defendant, who once held a position of trust and respect in our community, spend a significant period of time in jail,” said County Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar. “The residents who live in our neighborhoods deserve to be able to sleep soundly in their beds at night without having to worry about somebody breaking into their house and threatening them.”
Judge Kathleen Watanabe told Bonachita his statements deflect accountability for his actions by placing the blame solely on alcohol and in contrast to evidence and statements from witnesses in the police investigation.
“I am telling you to your face that I don’t buy your story,” Watanabe said. “It is one of convenience.”
Bonachita, who pleaded no contest to the amended charges in May, said he had no recollection of the events that transpired during the early morning hours of July 1, 2009.
According to police interviews, he entered Parker’s Kapaa residence and appeared at his bedroom door holding a knife. Parker’s friend and Bonachita’s ex-girlfriend, Lauren Kagawa, was at Parker’s home at the time of the break-in and yelled at Bonachita until he left.
Bonachita recalled waking up at a friend’s home in Koloa. His daughter called him to say the police were looking for him and he agreed to meet officers at a Koloa gas station.
At the time of his arrest, about two hours after the incident occurred, police found knives, firearms and ammunition inside his vehicle. He stated he was returning the .22 caliber rifle that belonged to a friend.
Defense attorney Michael Soong said Bonachita stopped drinking three years and three months ago. He argued the incident at the Parker house was dangerous but maintained it was spontaneous and fueled by alcohol.
Soong asked the court for probation with up to 30 days jail. He said Bonachita has made a great deal of progress and is unlikely to reoffend. He referred to letters of support from the community.
County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Lisa Arin said witnesses observed a person matching the Bonachita’s description in a vehicle matching his truck, in the area of Parker’s home around 3 p.m. the day before the incident. She said Bonachita’s actions, along with statements of witnesses, and an argument with Kagawa at lunch a day before, show the crimes were not impulsive but calculated and planned.
After Bonachita left, Parker and Kagawa waited in fear for about 15 minutes to be sure he was gone before leaving the bedroom and calling 911. The experience has made Parker continue to fear for his family’s safety, Arin said.
Parker, the co-creator of the “South Park” animated television series, spends much less time on the island now, Arin said. The Wailua River home he has owned for nearly 15 years was a two-month a year sanctuary from a stressful career and a place where he could blend in without the trappings of being a celebrity.
Bonachita stated in court that he and Kagawa had patched their differences.
Kagawa was found dead in her driveway from a combination of prescription medication and alcohol on Aug. 17, 2009. Police ruled out foul play but were not able to identify who drove her home that night, according to a Garden Island news story at the time.
“Our thoughts and prayers remain with the family and loved ones of Lauren Kagawa,” Kollar said.