Drunken driver gets 10-year prison term for killing pedestrian

Thomas Copeland
Thomas Copeland

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - A drunken driver who killed an elderly pedestrian in Kailua last year received his punishment Monday.

Thomas Copeland keeps his head lowered through much his sentencing, the weight of a person's death sitting squarely on his shoulders.

Paena Magarro, 69, was crossing Kailua Road to catch a bus to her housekeeping job in Waikiki, when Copeland's car slammed into her.

"To the Magarro family, I extend my deepest and most sincere condolences," Copeland, who was convicted of first-degree negligent homicide, said. "I apologize and am truly sorry for the pain and sorrow that surely they suffer each day."

"While the police were there and while the paramedics were responding, I mean, the whole time Thomas was asking, 'Is she okay? Is she okay?'" Alan Komagome, deputy public defender, said. "It was still dark. She was not in a marked crosswalk."

Prosecutors say Copeland has used alcohol and drugs to deal with his problems and depression since he was 14 years old, and was legally drunk at the time of the deadly crash. He also had a prior DUI conviction.

"There is no possibility of even considering the abusive nature of my behavior in the past when someone's life has been lost," Copeland told the judge.

But prosecutors say he tested positive for methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana in March 2008, two months after killing the pedestrian. He also has been convicted of domestic abuse and restraining order violations.

"Is he a person who's just not abiding by what authorities have been telling him," Darrell Wong, deputy prosecutor, said. "The way I'm seeing this is he's a danger to the community. He's a danger to himself, obviously."

The judge hands down the stiffest penalty for negligent homicide -- 10 years in prison.

The Hawaii parole board will decide how much of that he must serve before he's eligible for parole.