Five years for drugs, theft and abuse

LIHUE — A Kalaheo man was sentenced Wednesday in Kauai County 5th Circuit Court to a five-year prison term stemming from three cases involving drugs, theft and physically abusing his partner.

Joshua Matthew Cole, 24, was sentenced to three concurrent five-year prison terms and must serve a mandatory minimum of one year and eight months before he is eligible for parole. He entered no contest pleas in all three cases July 8.

“The defendant doesn’t only have a drug problem, he has a violence problem,” said County Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar. “He has been arrested several dozen times in his short life and, unfortunately, the best way to keep the community safe is for this defendant to spend a substantial amount of time in prison. He’ll still be a young man when he gets out, and we hope that he will be better able to safely be a part of his community at that time.”

Judge Kathleen Watanabe said the court was concerned that the defendant took responsibility for his actions in court, but that his written account continues to place blame on friends, his partner and others.

“It begins and ends with you,” Watanabe told Cole. “Don’t look to others to blame.”

Court-appointed defense attorney James Tagupa represented Cole in the first case involving multiple B and C felony drug charges. They were in the process of fighting the charges, saying the drugs belonged to a second individual that Cole did not know well — until Cole violated his supervised release awaiting trial on a second-degree theft charge.

While out on supervised release, Cole filled a cart at Walmart and walked past the cashiers and out the door with the items, according to Second Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Rebecca Vogt, who represented the state in court.

State Deputy Public Defender John Calma represented Cole in the theft case. He said that drugs were the underlining issue and asked the court for a sentence that was concurrent with the other charges.

Court-appointed defense attorney Kai Lawrence represented Cole in the third case involving the abuse of a family or household member.

Cole was apparently high and became violent during an argument with his partner about infidelity, according to Vogt. She said the state was concerned for the continuing crimes and lack of remorse.

“In each case the defendant attempts to place the blame on someone else,” Vogt said.

The court agreed with Vogt’s assessment and included an order to attend a domestic violence intervention course and to undergo a substance abuse evaluation.

Lawrence asked the court to consider that Cole has served nearly eight months in jail and that the couple intends to remain together.

The victim in the case told the court she is raising two young children and continues to live with Cole’s parents.

She spoke in his defense, saying he could change with treatment and she needed him to help with the children while she works two full-time jobs and attends Kauai Community College.

After saying that he takes responsibility for his actions but that he was not in possession of the methamphetamine and marijuana found in the vehicle at the time of his arrest, Cole said he was sorry for being a burden to the court and to his family.

“Honestly, I need help with a drug problem,” he said.

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