Man gets 2 years for beatings

LIHUE — A Lihue man who assault two strangers at Kalapaki Beach Park was sentenced to two years in jail on Thursday in 5th Circuit Court.

Frank Leonard Kalani Bejo, 32, was given two one-year jail sentences for two separate attacks that occurred on March 17. The sentences will run consecutively.

Chief Judge Randal Valenciano said the defendant’s history of violence and jail time did not make probation a preferable option. He also noted that the victims were randomly selected which created a public safety issue.

“Your prior incarceration did nothing to stop this behavior and it is appropriate to protect the public from you,” Valenciano said.

County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Teresa Tumbaga, said the first incident occurred when Bejo confronted an adult male in the beach park bathroom. He closed the door to imprison the victim, accused him of being a federal agent, and proceeded to beat him until he fell, and then kicked him on the floor.

Shortly after that incident, Bejo was observed reaching into a vehicle to beat another adult male at the same beach park, Tumbaga added.

Bejo’s criminal history includes 13 misdemeanor and and eight petty misdemeanors, Tumbaga said. This includes convictions for violence, including abuse of a family or household member, harassment, assault and property damage.

Bejo had probation revoked twice and has already served a year in jail for one offense, she added.

Bejo pleaded no contest on two misdemeanor counts of third degree assault on Sept. 2. In exchange, the state agreed to drop the felony charge of first-degree unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle.

Court appointed defense attorney Craig De Costa said that the defendant’s criminal history was due in large part to his mental health. He asked the court to consider probation with treatment as preferable to jail time given that he had already served 177 days.

• A Kilauea woman who lost her probation was re-sentenced to five years in prison on Wednesday in 5th Circuit Court.

Kahelena Wallace, 36, had her felony probation revoked after she failed to successfully complete Kauai Drug Court. She had sought to be admitted into the HOPE (Hawaii’s Opportunity Probation with Enforcement) for close supervision of high-risk offenders.

Wallace was initially charged with prohibited acts related to a controlled substance after she was arrested on Feb. 19, 2013.

The motion for HOPE was dropped at Wallace’s request after she asked for the prison term, said State Deputy Public Defender Samuel Jajich.

• A Kauai juvenile facing charges as an adult in a sexual assault case involving another minor pleaded no contest Wednesday in 5th Circuit Court.

Trisitian Taeza, 17, pleaded no contest to two counts of second-degree sexual assault, both B-felonies that carry up to 10 years in prison. The court is not bound to the plea agreement that has the state and the defendant agreeing to probation and a mandatory 18-month jail term.

The case originated in Family Court, where Taeza was initially charged with six counts of first-degree sexual assault, and six counts of second-degree sexual assault. The 15-year-old victim was 13 at the time the offenses occurred in January 2012.

The decision waves Taeza’s right to a grand jury indictment or a preliminary hearing. In exchange for pleading to the charges, the state agreed to recommend the 18-month jail sentence with felony probation.

Taeza will continue to be held at Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility.

Bail was set at $20,000.

• A Waimea man convicted of methamphetamine and weapons possession was sentenced to five years in prison on Wednesday in 5th Circuit Court.

Kerry Lani Apo, 44, was staying with a friend who was the subject of a police investigation. When police appeared with a search warrant, Apo was discovered sleeping on a couch with methamphetamine residue and a handgun.

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