Teen gets 20-year prison sentence for beating death of cab driver

Michael Robles
Michael Robles
Charlys Ty Tang
Charlys Ty Tang

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A teen convicted in the vicious beating death of a cab driver last year was hoping for leniency at his sentencing Wednesday, but he didn't get it. Michael Robles received the maximum punishment for manslaughter -- 20 years in prison.

Defense attorney William Jameson says his client's difficult childhood began in his mother's womb when he was exposed to crystal methamphetamine and cocaine, and continued when he was sexually abused at the age of six and put into a series of foster homes.

But prosecutors say that's no excuse for his savage crime.

The 19-year-old convicted killer was eligible for a sentence of probation, but he didn't seek it. His lawyer says it shows there is something in him that is decent and can still be salvaged.

"There is something in him that knows that there is a line here that was crossed, and it would be an insult and it would be more pain to the family to even ask," Jameson said.

But Robles didn't want the maximum punishment for manslaughter either.

Prosecutors say the teen deserves a 20-year prison term for the beating death of cab driver Charlys Ty Tang, 41. The husband and father of two was found unresponsive in a Waipahu parking lot last year.

During the trial, the defendant acted out his version of the attack, claiming it was his friend who delivered most of the blows.

But Kilani DeRego says he wasn't even there. DeRego's trial is set for February.

"I feel great remorse for my involvement and my role in this case," Robles said. "I take full responsibility for my actions."

At the time of the incident, Robles and DeRego were residents of Hale Kipa, a transitional shelter for at-risk youth. Former Hale Kipa staffer Jumanne Washington says Robles did not show signs of violence.

"I coach track and field. I would take Michael with me because he was the safe client to have out in the community," Washington said.

Although the victim's widow was not present, Robles apologized to her and asked for her forgiveness.

"If there's anything I can do in return, I'll give her my 100% mind, body and soul to do it," the convicted killer said.

"Quite frankly, Mr. Robles does not have anything that Mrs. Tang wants," Scott Bell, deputy prosecutor, said. "There is nothing that Mr. Robles could give, offer or say that could make right what he did."

The judge rejected the defense's request for an eight-year prison term under the state's youthful offender statute and, instead, handed down the full 20.

"Any childhood deprivations or hardships do not provide a legal justification for the horrific conduct that resulted in Mr. Tang's death," Bell said.

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