James Monroe was responsible in 2014 fatal wreck

LIHUE — A Kilauea man serving 10 years in prison on manslaughter and negligent-homicide charges wants a different sentence.

James Monroe Jr. appeared before Judge Randal Valenciano Tuesday morning, chained by the ankle, just two months after he was sentenced to a decade in prison relating to the 2014 death of Sam Mitzel.

“Mr. Monroe was sentenced back in September, and I’ve received several messages that he filed a motion for reduction or reconsideration of the sentence,” said Michael Soong, his attorney.

On March 4, 2014, about 7:30 p.m., Mitzel and his father Keith Mitzel were struck by a Ford pickup truck driven by Monroe on Kuhio Highway just north of Wailapa Road.

On the night of the wreck, Monroe, 53, had a blood alcohol content of .324, three times the legal limit, according to reports.

Monroe crossed the center line and sideswiped a southbound Jeep SUV before crashing head-on into a Dodge SUV driven by Sam Mitzel. The collision forced the Dodge to overturn, according to police reports.

Mitzel, 29, died at the scene.

Keith Mitzel survived the wreck, but suffered from 10 broken ribs, a lacerated spleen and internal bleeding.

He was taken to Wilcox Hospital and was then flown to Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu.

The driver of the Jeep SUV, Cathy Farley, and her passenger were also injured, according to reports.

Soong said a hearing on the motion to reduce his sentence was set for May.

But he has a time conflict and can no longer represent him after January.

He filed a motion to withdraw counsel, which Valenciano approved.

During the proceedings, Valenciano addressed Monroe.

“Because Mr. Soong is privately attained, the court is not going to appoint an attorney for you, but you can apply for public-defender services if you like,” he said.

“You can also hire an attorney if you want to.”

Monroe was arrested March 5 and charged with negligent injury and negligent homicide.

He was later indicted on nine counts, including manslaughter, negligent homicide in the first degree, assault in the second degree, negligent injury in the first degree, two counts of assault in the third degree, reckless driving, inattention to driving and operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant.

He pleaded no contest to those charges on May 11.

A status of counsel hearing is scheduled Dec. 13.


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