Bank robbery suspect pleads no contest

LIHUE — The suspect accused of robbing a Kapaa bank four months ago pleaded no contest Tuesday in 5th Circuit Court.

As part of the plea, Joshua Michael Carlsen, 37, agreed to a 10-year prison term with a mandatory minimum sentence of six years and eight months before he is eligible for parole. 

In exchange for the plea deal, the state agreed not to ask the court for a 20-year enhanced sentence based on his prior record that includes attempted murder and drug offenses.

Carlsen was arrested Jan. 29 for robbing the Bank of Hawaii-Kapaa branch earlier that day. Carlsen allegedly entered the bank with a hood pulled up and presented a note demanding money. 

He indicated he had a gun before escaping with money.

He was arrested along Kuhio Highway just blocks from his Hauaala Road home, where police discovered $5,074 of the $7,988 reportedly stolen from the bank earlier that day.

Chief Judge Randal Valenciano explained to Carlsen that the mandatory minimum does not give the court flexibility at sentencing. He said the plea deal also allows the state to argue for an extended minimum sentence to the state parole authority.

Sentencing was scheduled for Sept. 18. Carlsen remains in custody at Kauai Community Correction Center on $250,000 bail.

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