Judge rejects deadly driver's request to reduce 10-year prison sentence

Bryan Ekolu Miller
Bryan Ekolu Miller
Lew Carvalho
Lew Carvalho
Waika Carvalho
Waika Carvalho
Karlotta Carvalho
Karlotta Carvalho
William Harrison
William Harrison

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A young man sentenced last month to 10 years in prison for a deadly drunken driving crash stood before the same judge Monday and asked her to reconsider.

Bryan Ekolu Miller, 21, sought a five-year prison term under Hawaii's youthful offender statute, or probation. The family of the passenger who was killed successfully fought that request.

Each time Lew and Karlotta Carvalho return to court, they're thrust back to that day in 2009 when their 23-year-old son, Waika, was killed.

"Unless you lose a child, you'll never know the pain," Lew Carvalho, crash victim's father, said through tears. "There's a hole in my heart that will never be filled."

The former Kahuku High football standout died when an intoxicated Bryan Ekolu Miller, then 19 years old, lost control of the truck they were in and slammed into a guardrail.

Defense attorney William Harrison told Circuit Judge Karen Ahn that 332 people signed a petition, supporting a reduction in Miller's 10-year prison sentence.

"We have a significant portion of his community that believe that the sentence meted out by this court was too severe," Harrison said.

Harrison says his client has a strong support system, is willing to speak to kids about the dangers of alcohol, and can be a productive member of society.

But the victim's family says the punishment that was handed down six weeks ago sent the right message.

"Your decision that you have made in sentencing has really had an impact, not just about my son and my family," Karlotta Carvalho, crash victim's mother, said. "It's had an impact across the state of Hawaii."

The judge says fashioning the proper penalty is one of the most difficult parts of her job.

"Sentencing is maybe the toughest because it's not easy to send a young man to jail for 10 years," Ahn said.

But she upheld her sentence, calling it fair.

"I'm really, I'm really, really disappointed in what the judge did," Harrison said after the hearing. "You have a young man here, first offense in his life."

The Hawaii parole board will decide how much of the 10-year term Miller must serve before being eligible for release.

"If my son died and this man becomes a better man because of his death, I can accept that," Lew Carvalho said.

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