City prosecutor: Fatal stabbing of 16-year-old could have been prevented

City prosecutor: Fatal stabbing of 16-year-old could have been prevented
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

KALIHI (HawaiiNewsNow) - City Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro is calling out a probation program that released the man who is now suspected of killing a 16-year-old Farrington High football player.

"If the court, when this defendant violated the conditions of probation, would have revoked his probation and sentenced him to prison, yes, the victim would still be alive," Kaneshiro told Hawaii News Now.

Wesley Sula, 16, was fatally stabbed Tuesday at a Kalihi public housing project. His brother, Chippa, was also stabbed and was transported to a hospital in serious condition.

Police have charged Adrian Bringas, 27, in the stabbing. Bringas was in court Friday on murder and assault charges.

But just weeks ago, he was given a pass to leave prison.

Kaneshiro says this is a perfect example of criminals in Hawaii getting too many chances.

Bringas has 58 prior arrests, and three felony convictions. He's been on HOPE probation for six years and in and out of jail for numerous violations.

On March 29, he was released by a judge to visit a drug program under the condition he would come back, but he didn't.

Two weeks later, Wesley Sula was fatally stabbed.

"It's a tough pill for me to swallow because I see this happen time and time again," Kaneshiro said.

The state Public Safety Department says Bringas has been in and out of jail 20 times in the past eight years.

"When is enough, enough?" Kaneshiro asked. "I say when they violate the conditions of probation and they show that they continue to violate the conditions of probation. Then that's enough."

The state Judiciary, though, says the Honolulu Prosecutor's Office missed a chance to have Bringas sentenced to 10 years in another case last year.

In that case, prosecutors agreed to a plea deal with Bringas, which reduced a felony to a misdemeanor, indicating that the prosecutors did not at that time consider him unusually dangerous.

Court documents say Bringas was attempting to sell the Sula brothers illegal drugs at Kuhio Park Terrace just before an argument broke out. The documents say Bringas pulled an object out of his backpack and used it to stab Sula in the chest. He then allegedly stabbed Sula's older brother in the leg.

While on HOPE probation, Bringas' judge was Steven Alm, who launched the program. Unlike usual probation, offenders under the HOPE program get frequent short jail terms for violations. Studies have shown it is successful in preventing convicted felons from re-offending.

Alm has said the HOPE program also saves money. "We could send everybody to prison. But it costs about $50,000 a year in Hawaii," Alm previously told Hawaii News Now. "Do we really want to send a 25-year-old to Halawa prison for two or three years at $50,000 a year?"

The state Judiciary said Bringas was given a pass to go to Care Hawaii, a drug treatment program, but he was told to be back by 11 a.m. or he would get 10 years in prison. They said Bringas gave the judge his word he wouldn't run away, but he didn't keep his promise.

When asked if defendants take advantage of the program, Kaneshiro said, "Yes. They take advantage of the program, they take advantage of knowing that the prison is overcrowded and they're not going be sent to prison and they'll be given as many chances possible."

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