LIHUE — The first person responsible for hitting and killing a 60-year-old woman crossing the street two years ago has made a deal with the prosecutor’s office.
Paulanna Larish was crossing Rice Street near the Post Office in the early morning hours of Oct. 7, 2014 when a Toyota Tacoma hit her at the marked crosswalk, according to reports.
The driver, Derreck Agan, got out of his vehicle to assist her when another vehicle hit Larish again, this time killing her. Tierra Aiolupotea was the driver who hit Larish the second time.
On Monday, Agan pleaded no contest to second-degree negligent injury, a reduced charge from first-degree negligent homicide after prosecutors determined that Agan’s vehicle did not kill Larish.
Negligent injury in the second degree is punishable by one year in jail and up to a $2,000 fine. There are no extended terms of imprisonment.
He was originally charged with a felony instead of the misdemeanor for in the death of Larish while under the influence of the drug Temazapam, a benzodiazepine and sedative.
“The charge was adjusted to reflect that he caused injury and not death,” said Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar. “Although Agan did have some prescribed medication in his system, the blood draw would not have been admissible because of the Won decision, and in any case there is no negligent injury charge that factors in impairment.”
He is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 23.
Autopsy reports on Larish indicate that Tierra Aiolupotea’s vehicle actually caused the fatal injuries, according to testimony at Aiolupotea’s sentencing earlier this month.
Fifth Circuit Court Judge Kathleen Watanabe sentenced Aiolupotea to 240 hours of community service earlier this month after prosecutors recommended it.
“While Aiolupotea’s car may have caused the death, it is not clear that she was negligent in her driving because the pedestrian was already down on the roadway, it was dark and rainy, and there was nothing to indicate to her that there was somebody injured in the road,” Kollar said. “She was not speeding, drunk or on drugs. At trial it would have been extremely difficult to prove that she even knew she hit anyone.”
When deciding on an appropriate sentence, Kollar said it’s important to look at the state of mind of the offender, not just the outcome that resulted.
“In this case, her state of mind was merely negligent, which is the lowest level of culpability for any criminal offense,” he said.
At Aiolupotea’s sentencing, Watanabe had trouble reconciling how Aiolupotea had 48 traffic citations but was still able to come to a plea agreement with the state.
When The Garden Island questioned the state, Kollar said the citations were sovereignty-related and were not indicative of whether “she could operate a motor vehicle or not.”
Citations from 2000 to 2013 included multiple speeding tickets where Aiolupotea is alleged to have driven 15 miles over the speed limit, had no motor vehicle insurance, fraudulent use of license, disregarding a stop sign, no current safety check and not wearing a seat belt, according to the state judiciary website.
Some of Aiolupotea’s cases had been dismissed, but many still had pending balances of $100 or more. At least one case had a balance of more than $500.
Aiolupotea has a driver’s license stopper active on her record, which means she is not allowed to renew her license due to non-payment of traffic citations. Citations had been sent to collections.
However, Kollar said the citations were not something the state would have been able to introduce to a jury at trial.
“We could only prosecute her for what she did that morning, not for mistakes she made in the past,” he said. “The resolution was a fair one, and one that was arrived at in full respect of the victim’s family’s wishes. Everyone with direct knowledge of the investigation and the facts and circumstances of this very unique case believes it was an appropriate resolution.”