LIHUE — A Koloa woman will spend between 16 years and 18 months in jail for possession of drugs and weapons.
Trish Flores, 39, pleaded no contest Monday to two felonies and one misdemeanor, and in exchange, prosecutors agreed to drop most of the charges and ask the judge to sentence her to four years probation plus 18 months in jail with credit for time already served.
Even though the majority of the serious charges against her were dismissed via the deal, Flores could still land in jail for a long time. The wide discrepancy between the maximum allowable sentence and the jail time prosecutors are requesting will leave Fifth Circuit Judge Randal Valenciano with a great deal of discretion when determining the length of Flores’ prison term.
Because he did not sign off on the deal prosecutors offered Flores, Valenciano could hand down a 16-year prison term or release her with probation and credit for time served when he makes his final ruling on the case in October.
The plea bargain will resolve two cases pending against Flores, who had faced 10 felony counts and several misdemeanors in two separate cases.
According to a statement submitted to the court by Kauai Police Department Sgt. Michael Nii, charges against Flores stemmed from a 2016 homicide investigation involving Flores and Brandon Pagala, a Kekaha man who drowned last year while scuba diving with a friend in Poipu.
During the course of the investigation, Nii said in his declaration that one officer saw Pagala remove a small-caliber rifle from the cab of a truck Flores had been driving and carry it into his home in Kekaha. Police got a search warrant, returned to the area, arrested Flores and Pagala, seized the vehicle and searched the residence.
Police said they found several hollow-point bullets in Pagala’s pockets during the arrest, and after arriving back at KPD headquarters, discovered a stun gun hidden in the door sleeve and a baggie of methamphetamine shoved between the cushions in the back seat of the police cruiser where Flores was sitting.
Nii’s statement said a search of Pagala’s residence on Kopaa Street in Kekaha turned up a .22 caliber rifle and eight lead-tipped bullets.
The following day, police got a second warrant and searched the vehicle they had seized, where Nii said they found more ammo, baggies of weed and meth, along with a variety of drug paraphernalia.
Charges weren’t brought against Flores until July 2018, more than eight months after her arrest. By the time she was arraigned, police were already building a second case against her. According to court documents, Flores was caught with oxycodone, methamphetamine, marijuana, a double-edged dagger and a switchblade knife the day before she pleaded not guilty to charges related to the 2017 incident.
Flores posted bail a few months after the July hearing. It would be over a year before prosecutors would file charges in the second case, and another 10 months would pass before any substantive progress was made in either case. Flores is set to appear again in court for sentencing in October.