LIHUE — A Kapaa man facing six months in jail told a judge he wanted the full five-year sentence. He got it.
Kyle Neuberger pleaded no contest to a felony charge earlier this year, a month after he broke into a home in Wailua.
His original charge — first-degree burglary, a class B felony that carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail — was reduced to a less-serious offense, and prosecutors recommended he serve only six months, plus four years probation, according to court documents.
That all changed Thursday morning, when he appeared in court for sentencing. Before Fifth Circuit Judge Randal Valenciano handed down the sentence, he allowed one of Neuberger’s victims to testify.
A woman who lived in the home stood before the judge and told her story of what happened on the night of March 2, when she returned home with her granddaughter, who opened their garage door and saw a large man running out of the house toward the beach.
“I’m here for Kyle, who broke into our family’s home,” said the woman, whose name is being withheld at her request. “I believe he needs some type of rehabilitation.”
The woman went on to explain that her children went to high school with Neuberger and had seen him around town for years afterward, watching as he slowly devolved from a star athlete in high school to a middle-aged man with increasingly obvious problems.
“I understand he was a very good baseball player,” she said.
An archived post on the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s athletics website references a “dominating pitching performance by Kyle Neuberger” that allowed the UH baseball team to win the second game of a doubleheader in April 2005.
The home intrusion traumatized the family, according to the woman, who told the judge she no longer feels safe on the property and said her granddaughter now has to attend weekly therapy sessions.
Still, the woman did not appear to be in court seeking revenge. She stopped just short of asking Valenciano to be lenient on Neuberger, who stood quietly, looking down at the table in front of him while she spoke.
“We want to make sure he gets help,” she concluded. “I don’t want to see him on the streets anymore. And that’s the end of the story.”
The woman finished talking and went back to her seat near the back of the courtroom, and Judge Valenciano turned to Neuberger, asking whether he would like to make a statement on his own behalf before sentencing.
Neuberger leaned over and muttered something inaudible in the ear of his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Stephanie Char. When Valenciano asked for a clarification, Neuberger spoke up.
“I just want the five,” he said. Char tried to shut him up, but Neuberger was insistent.
“I’m sorry for what I did. I didn’t intend to stay in the residence,” he continued. “I was kind of out of my mind. I believe I deserve the five-year term.”
Char scrambled to save her client from himself and asked the judge to call another case so she could talk things over with Neuberger before he did any more damage.
“Do you want to talk to her?” Valenciano asked Neuberger, who shook his head.
“Nah. I’m good. I understand,” he replied. “I’ve been thinking about this for months.”
Char sighed. Her arms dropped to her sides.
“On behalf of Mr. Neuberger, I request the open five-year term,” she said.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Anthony Herndon, who five minutes before had been ready to read a prepared statement that ended with a request for a six-month sentence, shrugged his shoulders, set his papers down and asked the judge for five years in jail.
Valenciano gave everyone what they asked for.
“Good luck, Mr. Neuberger,” he said.
Later, in the hall, the woman sat alone, visibly shaken by what had happened.
“I didn’t come here today to do that,” she said.