HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Makaha man who stabbed his neighbor to death will likely serve just one year in jail. That punishment isn't sitting well with the victim's family.
Johnny Walton, Jr., 51, bled to death after he was stabbed in his right arm. But his autopsy also revealed he had methamphetamine in his system, and the defense says that played a role in the deadly attack.
Jarvis Walton says he never imagined having to do this -- coming to court to speak for his dead brother. He described Johnny Walton, Jr. as a decorated Marine who served two tours in Desert Storm.
He survived war, but could not survive a battle with his neighbor, Thomas Muscara, at their gated complex in Makaha in March of this year.
"He chose to live there to avoid trouble," Jarvis Walton, victim's brother, said. "But I guess he never saw that trouble was going to be behind the gate, instead of outside of the gate."
Muscara was accused of fatally stabbing Walton in a dispute over $30.
"I mean, is that worth killing someone over?" the victim's brother asked.
Charged with manslaughter, the defendant struck a deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to the lesser offense of first-degree assault.
"You might get a plea bargain here," Jarvis Walton said. "But in the end, when you come before God, there is no plea bargain."
Defense attorney Michael Green says his client was merely defending himself from a knife-wielding man high on drugs.
"It was a four- to six-inch butcher knife that he's waving and trying to stab my client with, with crystal methamphetamine in his blood," Green said. "My client has a two-inch pocket knife and he winds up sticking the guy in the arm and he bled to death."
Muscara says Walton had previously attacked him with a crow bar.
"I just feel terrible about the whole situation," Muscara said. "I never intended for this to happen. I really thought I was going to get stabbed if I didn't do what I was doing, if I turned around. I didn't want to go back to the hospital again. I didn't want to get hurt again."
Circuit Judge Karen Ahn sentenced him to five years probation and 18 months of jail. But he'll only have to serve 12 months if he enters a substance abuse and mental health program.
"This plea agreement is abundantly fair and it's fair to the people," Green said.
Muscara sidestepped the maximum punishment for first-degree assault, which is 10 years in prison.
The judge ordered Muscara to pay $7,755.44 in restitution to the victim's family.