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Man sentenced for armed robbery

LIHU‘E — A Lihu’e man was sentenced to serve 20 years in prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years for robbery, Wednesday morning in Fifth Circuit Court.

Tunu Afele, 45, will serve a 10-year sentence for theft in the first degree, and five-year sentences for two counts of terroristic threatening.

According to court documents, Afele brandished a loaded firearm at a victim and demanded money.

Afele allegedly told the victim that he would harm him and his girlfriend, and threatened if the girlfriend that if he did not comply with his demands that he would “blow him away” while holding a shotgun allegedly to the victim’s head.

When the police arrived at the scene, Afele refused to submit to arrest and made numerous threats against the officers.

After the KDP was able to calm Afele down, he was arrested peacefully.

Police later recovered a stolen shotgun from Afele’s vehicle, which wasn’t registered in his name.

Afele’s criminal defense attorney Mark Zenger made his case for Afele, and argued the details stated on the affidavit were exaggerated.

“It was a drunk and stupid moment, and he was just mouthing off,” Zenger said.

State prosecutors emphasized the fact Afele is dangerous. They used his explicit threats as examples of how violent Afele is.

When police arrived, Afele was allegedly combative and told the police he was a member of the United Samoan Organization gang, a Samoan prison gang that started in the mid-1980s, and that his soldiers had “more firepower than the police got”.

Zenger added the threats were alcohol-induced, and Afele, who Zenger acknowledged had anger issues, said they had subsided since his incarceration.

Zenger said Afele is reading the bible daily to learn the philosophical lessons that give him valuable insight.

“His threats were hollow and meaningless, and (his) threats weren’t real,” Zenger said.

Kaua’i Prosecuting Attorney Justin F. Kollar stated he was happy Afele was brought to justice.

“I am grateful to the hardworking officers and detectives of the Kauai Police Department for their efforts in investigating and resolving this incredibly dangerous situation without any injuries,” Kollar said. “Their resourcefulness and dedication help to keep our community safe.”

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Jason Blasco, reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or jblasco@thegardenisland.com.

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