Emotions Run High Following DUI Sentencing

Ronald Kubo
Ronald Kubo
Johnelle Tapu
Johnelle Tapu

HONOLULU (KHNL) - The family of a woman killed by a drunk driver begs the judge to hand down the stiffest sentence possible. But instead, the victim's family leaves the courthouse angry and disappointed.

Sixteen-year-old Kata Finau cradles a box containing his mom's ashes. He's one of six children devastated after a crash on the H-1 Freeway killed their mother, Johnelle Tapu.

"This has been three years without the mom," Davelle Finau, victim's daughter, said through an interpreter. "I really miss all the mother's days."

Prosecutors say Ronald Kubo was driving drunk on the H-1 near Aiea, when his truck demolished Tapu's car. The victim was an airport security guard.

"This is what you did," Darrin Manu, victim's brother, said while pointing to the urn. "She was on her way to work. Minimum wage, going to work."

The family asks the judge to sentence Kubo to the full 10-year prison term. The defense begs for mercy.

"We've all made bad choices in life," Bernie Kubo, defendant's mother, said. "And I ask that someday, that you find forgiveness in your heart."

"I really am sorry," Ronald Kubo, defendant, said. "If I could take it back and I could be in her place, I would."

The judge told the court there's no doubt the victim taught her children life lessons about love and generosity, and would forgive the defendant for his actions. The judge then sentenced Kubo to one year in jail and five years probation.

"That's not right, one year," a family member yelled outside the courtroom. "You know what? You guys can just go ahead and drink and drive."

"What about my sister? Six children," Lehua Vete, victim's sister, said. "This decision that this judge had made, it's wrong."

Defense attorneys say Kubo has no prior criminal record, and has served his country as a National Guardsman.

The victim's family has filed a lawsuit.