LIHUE — A Kauai County judge said Thursday it was not an accident that Christopher Cruz stabbed his pregnant girlfriend.
“There were a number of factors that led to this situation. One of the factors was a traffic ticket — he got angry over a traffic ticket. Then there were arguments and part of the argument had to do with who was the father of the child,” said Judge Randal Valenciano. “What the court fears what happened in this case is that the argument got so heated and the only way Mr. Cruz felt he could control the argument was to take away the unborn child.”
Cruz, 34, appeared before Valenciano Thursday morning to be sentenced on eight counts, including attempted manslaughter, kidnapping, abuse of family or household members, terroristic threatening in the second degree, reckless endangering in the second degree and driving without a license.
Cruz was sentenced to 20 years in prison, the open term requested by Justin Kollar, prosecuting attorney.
“The facts on the case are some of the most abhorrent I’ve seen in my time. He stabbed his girlfriend in the abdomen, knowing she was 28 weeks pregnant. Not only that, while he was holding their 2-year-old daughter,” Kollar said. “The open 20-year term is the only sentence that will adequately protect the community and the defendant’s own family.”
On Dec. 6. 2015, Cruz and his girlfriend, Victoria Kanahele, were stopped by Kauai police behind the Eleele Big Save for a traffic violation, according to reports. After the police left, the pair got into a fight, which escalated when Cruz pulled out a knife and stabbed her.
Kanahele ran toward the front of Big Save requesting help, while Cruz fled on foot still carrying his daughter, according to police.
Witnesses said they saw Kanahele lying on the ground and covered in blood.
Cruz was arrested Dec. 13.
“When you look at the statement he made, he shows no remorse. He says she was ‘acting stupid.’ He said she walked into the knife,” Kollar said. “What happened that day is simply shocking.”
According to the report, doctors said Kanahele lost a lot of blood, and the one-to-two-inch puncture wound needed to be operated on immediately. Doctors told police the knife had ruptured her uterus and might have harmed her unborn baby.
She was rushed to the Wilcox Memorial Hospital Emergency Room, where her 28-week-old baby was delivered after an emergency cesarean.
The male baby died a half hour later.
“This child was a fighter. He fought for 31 minutes. He wasn’t able to protect himself or save himself. But he was a fighter,” Valenciano said Thursday.
Kanahele was not present for the proceedings, and no other witnesses took the stand.
Cruz made a brief statement.
“If I could take back the day, I would. I’m sorry,” he said.
His attorney, Stephanie Char, asked for two years in prison, followed by 10 years probation.
“On the day in question, a tragedy occurred. And that tragedy was that two people lost their child,” Char said. “The passing of the child was not a result of any direct injury to the child.”
Cruz’s actions were reckless, not egregious, Char said.
“His statement illustrates how the levels of emotions were rising and rising and how it led to the act of pulling out a knife,” she said.
When it came to sentencing Cruz, Char said the judge had a hard choice to make.
But Valenciano disagreed.
“It’s really not a hard decision for the court,” he said. “Part of the court’s responsibility is to protect those who cannot protect themselves and that’s a duty I take seriously.”