LIHUE — A man accused of causing a 2015 wreck that resulted in the death of a woman was sentenced Thursday.
“It really was an accident. I realized what happened, and it’s had an impact on my life and the direction it’s going,” Kevin Perry said. “This is the biggest and worse thing that’s happened in my life, and I’m truly regretful and sorry for what happened.”
Kevin Kaipo Perry, 40, appeared before Judge Randal Valenciano on negligent homicide in the third degree and inattention to driving charges connected to the death of Juana Domingo. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail, with credit for time served, followed by one year probation.
On April 19, Perry, who lives in Koloa, was sentenced to 90 days in jail on on one count of intent of choking after police say he beat up his girlfriend in 2015.
Perry is a firefighter with the Kauai Fire Department, confirmed Sarah Blane, county spokeswoman.
“I’ve seen in my job, what this thing does to families, and how hard it is. I never thought I’d be in this position,” Perry said Thursday.
On Aug. 7, 2015, Perry was driving on Kaumualii Highway and attempted to turn onto Maluhia Road, when he crossed the center line and struck an oncoming Honda sedan.
According to police reports, Perry was trying to retrieve a Hydro Flask that fell down in his truck, Valenciano said.
The male driver of the Honda and Domingo, both 83, were transported to Wilcox Memorial Hospital with injuries. The man was later released.
Domingo, who lived in Kekaha, died a week later at Queen’s Medical Center.
On Thursday, Domingo’s daughter, Rowena Domingo Chong, said the weekend was supposed to be a family get together to watch a football game.
“It turned into a weekend we would never forget,” she said.
Domingo Chong said her mother was a woman of great faith.
“He took the life of a woman who was previously plagued with illness, but whose health was beginning to improve,” she said. “She was no longer fearful she would fall ill again. She was once again becoming a vibrant woman and was healthy enough to do things she loved, like participating in St. Theresa’s carnival, attending meetings (like) the Filipino Club, traveling to the other islands to spend time with family and taking her annual trips to Vegas. In one fell swoop, he took it all away.”
A bottle of water was more important than keeping his eyes on the road, Domingo Chong said.
“Although the event was an accident, a precious life was taken, and Mr. Perry will have to live with his guilt forever,” she said.
During the proceedings, Perry’s lawyer, John Murphy, said Perry’s actions were unintentional.
“The investigation report lists the death as an accident, and the defense’s position — this was an accident. The cause of death was complications to lung trauma, according to the police report,” he said.
He said a plea bargain had been reached, where he would serve between 60 and 90 days in jail to run concurrently with the sentence Perry is already serving .
But Valenciano said there was no documentation of a plea bargain.
“In the plea bargain, there’s a letter dated Nov. 16, 2016, where it indicates the parties will argue at sentencing, so there’s no plea bargain regarding the sentence the court will impose.”
Kollar said that while he has the intention of asking for no more than 90 days, it wasn’t part of the plea agreement. So Murphy asked for a continuance to clear it up.
Valenciano denied the motion.
There are different stories as to the cause of the wreck, said Justin Kollar, prosecuting attorney.
“In reviewing the totality of the investigation, it appears that he was exchanging some kind of communication — it’s not clear if it happened during the time of the incident —with his phone that indicated he may have taken some kind of substance, which isn’t clear,” he said.
There was no blood draw because the officer who responded to the scene didn’t call the traffic unit, Kollar added.
Before he handed down his sentence, Valenciano said he has to balance the different versions of the story.
“When I read at the report, there are indications that he may have been communicating on the phone, either talking or texting. There are allegations that maybe he was on some kind of substance, which we will never know because there was no test done. Then I have to weigh that fact that some of that information is coming from someone who may have bad motives against Mr. Perry,” he said. “The one thing we know is that a person died.”