HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The lawyer for a drunken driver who killed a pedestrian in Waikiki nine months ago pleaded for mercy at his client's sentencing Tuesday. Elwyn Keomaka II could have received a 10-year prison term for first-degree negligent homicide, but wound up getting far less.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys agree that sentencing in a negligent homicide case involving a first-time offender is a challenge. Circuit Judge Edwin Nacino had to balance mercy for an otherwise productive member of society with justice for the victim's family.
Tears fell as family, friends and co-workers remembered Ray Kanemori, 61, a husband and father of two who had coached baseball and soccer, and served as scout leader.
"This was all taken away in an instant by the selfish, uncaring, thoughtless action of a drunken driver," Ted Kanemori, victim's brother, said.
Keomaka, 28, was intoxicated and driving the wrong way on a one-way street when he plowed into Kanemori, who was walking to his car after getting off work as a guest services manager for Outrigger Hotels.
"It is hard to accept that such a humble and yet inspiring man has prematurely been taken away from us," Tom Burke, victim's co-worker, said. "He was a hard-working gentleman that gave a lot and who asked for very little in return."
Keomaka's co-workers say he is extremely remorseful and would trade places with his victim if he could. The defendant, who's a vice president at an information technology firm, has no prior criminal record, not even a traffic violation.
"We are all in deep shock," Janine Clifford, Keomaka's co-worker, said. "We would never have thought that this could ever happen to him."
The victim's sons, Tyler and Brian, listened as Keomaka read the letter he wrote to their family.
"I'm prepared to face the consequences of my actions and that you may find justice in the wrong that I have caused your family," the convicted driver said. "From the bottom of my heart, I'm so sorry."
The judge rejected the prosecution's request for a 10-year prison term and sentenced the deadly driver to 18 months in jail, five years probation and 500 hours of community service.
"Whatever happens in this courtroom this morning should never change your memories of Ray Kanemori," Nacino said. "You need to continue to honor those memories."
"On behalf of the Kanemori family, they really feel that the judge's sentence should be a deterrent to anyone who makes a criminal decision to drink and drive," Jennifer Dotson, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said.
Keomaka's community service will include working with MADD. He was also ordered to surrender his driver's license.