Plea deal reached in officer assault

LIHUE — A Kapaa man charged with kidnapping, escape and assaulting three Kauai police officers pleaded no contest Tuesday after accepting a plea deal from the state, which dropped multiple class A felonies.

The amended global agreement dated Nov. 10, 2015 between 44-year-old Ray Kuna Harada Jr. and the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney was signed in open court before Circuit Court Chief Judge Randal Valenciano. The plea wrapped up five incidents involving Harada.

Harada pleaded no contest to three charges — one count for each case — including one count of assault against a law enforcement officer, bail jumping and an amended charge of first-degree terroristic threatening, reduced from first-degree robbery. The charges are all C felonies. The state agreed to dismiss the remaining charges.

He is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 6 before Valenciano.

He was originally charged in three cases, all of which stemmed from a New Year’s Eve incident in 2014 when he is said to have allegedly kidnapped, restrained and held a woman against her will with a knife, according to the Jan. 13, 2015 complaint. He then allegedly robbed her of a backpack containing pearl and shell jewelry, records showed. Nine days later, he allegedly kidnapped the woman again, records showed.

He was charged with first-degree robbery and two counts of kidnapping, all class A felonies.

Class A felonies are punishable by 20 years in prison, class B felonies are punishable by 10 years in prison and class C felonies are punishable by five years in prison.

On June 4, 2015, over objections from the state, the court granted supervised release and told him to stay away from the victim.

On Sept. 21, Harada was scheduled to appear for his jury trial before Valenciano but when he didn’t show, the court revoked his bail and issued a bench warrant in the amount of $100,000.

Prosecutors charged him with first-degree bail jumping and contempt of court, a class C felony and a misdemeanor, respectively.

At 9:35 a.m. Sept. 29, three Kauai Police Department officers found Harada with the victim of the New Year’s Eve incident in a tent campsite down a steep hillside at the end of North Waiakalua Road, a dirt road leading to Pila‘a Beach, records showed.

Officers tried to restrain him, but “he recklessly and intentionally resisted by violently pulling and twisting” from officers eventually pulling one of the officers down the hill with him, even after being tased, records showed.

One officer who was holding onto Harada’s legs fell “and hit his face on what may have been a rock” during the struggle, records showed. The officers were able to place Harada in handcuffs by connecting two different handcuffs together in front of him, but Harada continued to twist and pull violently until he pulled another officer 20 feet into thick brush, records showed.

One officer continued his hold on Harada even after sliding down the hillside, until Harada bit the officer’s right hand, records showed. Harada continued sliding down the hill and escaping into thick brush.

Officers sustained multiple injuries during the struggle including, lacerations on arms, hands, bitten and gouged finger, bloody nose and cuts to the right shin areas, records showed.

The KPD Vice unit on Oct. 7, 2015 led a squad of officers to Kahili Beach, or Rock Quarry Beach, in Kilauea after the department sought help from the public to find Harada. When he was approached by KPD, Harada again allegedly attempted to flee and assaulted the arresting officer but after a struggle, he was taken into custody.

Prosecutors charged Harada with three counts of first-degree assault against a law enforcement officer, first-degree escape, and resisting arrest, class C felonies, a class B felony and a misdemeanor, respectively. He was held with bail set at $500,000.

In the plea agreement, prosecutors also declined to press charges on two cases from 2014 in which Harada is said have allegedly driven into the secured back parking lot area of the Kauai Police Department and got into a car that officers had entered into evidence, according to court records. He was allegedly trying to retrieve personal belongings, but had been previously advised he did not have permission to retrieve anything from the car, records showed.

Harada’s cases were spread over two courtrooms, two judges and two attorneys but were eventually consolidated after defense attorney Mark Zenger took over one of defense attorney’s Caren Dennemeyer’s cases when she withdrew as counsel in January.

Harada has a record dating back to 1997 when he was convicted of two counts of second-degree theft and fourth-degree theft. In 2008, Harada was convicted of fourth-degree arson, second-degree burglary, second-degree theft, and three counts of contempt of court.

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Michelle Iracheta, cops and courts reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or miracheta@thegardenisland.com. Follow Michelle on Twitter @cephira

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