Assault suspect to be sentenced

LIHUE — A man accused of punching another man in the head has pleaded no contest to the charge against him.

Nicholas Char of Koloa appeared in court before Judge Kathleen Watanabe Tuesday on a charge of first-degree assault, which is a class B felony, in connection to an incident that took place at Kalapaki Joe’s in Lihue in December.

A class B felony is punishable by 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.

Char was set to go to trial earlier this month, but entered a plea agreement with the state. On Tuesday, he pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of second-degree assault.

Second-degree assault is a class C felony and is punishable by up to five years in prison or a fine up to $10,000.

Char, 34, was arrested on Dec. 14 after police say he punched a man, later identified as Michael Nakana Duarte, in the back of the head, leaving him unresponsive.

Char had been seen drinking, taunting patrons and punching windows at Kalapaki Joe’s before being removed for his behavior, according to reports. But he returned, and that’s when police say he assaulted Duarte.

Duarte was taken to Wilcox Memorial Hospital Emergency Room, then medevaced to Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu with life-threatening injuries. He was released a week later.

Police picked up Char at the Wilcox Emergency Room on Dec. 15 after he was treated for ribs and head lacerations.

He will be sentenced on Feb. 22.

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