HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The grieving parents of a young man killed in a DUI crash in Laie two years ago say the public does not take the issue of drunken driving seriously enough. On Tuesday, they tearfully asked a judge to sentence the driver to a term that would send a clear message to the community.
They got their wish.
After pleading no contest to first-degree negligent homicide, Bryan Ekolu Miller faced one of three possible sentences -- 10 years in prison, five years incarceration as a youthful offender, or probation.
It was standing-room only -- with part of the crowd spilling into the hallway -- as a young driver prepared to receive his punishment for an alcohol-involved wreck that killed Waika Carvalho, 23, a former football standout at Kahuku High and nephew of Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr.
"All I get everyday after work is to go to the grave," Lew Carvalho, victim's father, said through tears. "There's a picture and I'll rub his eyes, rub his ears, rub my hand down his nose."
Prosecutors say Bryan Ekolu Miller had a blood alcohol level of 0.19 when he lost control of his truck on Kamehameha Highway in Laie and slammed into a guardrail. His other three passengers survived.
At just 19 years old, he should not have been drinking at all.
"I have sadness everyday when I go home to an empty room, a bed that has not had my son to lay his head upon," Karlotta Carvalho, victim's mother said through tears.
The defense asked for probation, saying Miller had no criminal history, is working full time to pay for his victims' crash-related expenses, and is speaking to children about the dangers of alcohol.
"He goes out and he speaks to community organizations and kids," William Harrison, defense attorney, said. "I think that's more powerful than warehousing this individual."
The now 21-year-old maintains he no longer drinks alcohol nor smokes marijuana.
"I wish I could take his place everyday of my life," the defendant said.
Calling the circumstances of the offense "atrocious" and his conduct "indefensible," Circuit Judge Karen Ahn sentenced Miller to 10 years in prison.
While relieved that justice was served, the victim's family says there is no winner.
"I miss my son," the victim's father said through tears.
The judge did not order Miller into custody immediately. Instead, she gave him three weeks to get his affairs in order before he begins serving his prison time.
Miller is expected to surrender to authorities July 25th.