Man Who Assaulted Military Couple in Waikele Sentenced

Gerald Paakaula
Gerald Paakaula

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- We have the latest on a criminal case in Hawaii that drew national attention. A Leeward Oahu man, who pleaded guilty to assaulting a military couple in Waikele earlier this year, received his punishment Monday.

Going into the hearing, Gerald Paakaula knew he couldn't avoid prison time. So the husband and father of three, who's been out on bail, spent his final moments as a free man with his family.

With his wife in tears, Paakaula stands before a judge for sentencing on two counts of assault.

"On that day, he was unable to curb his emotions," Todd Eddins, defense attorney, said.

A fender bender in a Waikele parking lot triggered the violence. Paakaula's attorney says his client came out of an ice-cream parlor to find his wife and son in a confrontation with Andrew and Dawn Dussell.

"His wife was sprawled and bloodied on the ground," Eddins said. "He hit each victim one time, and he knows that he hurt them."

But he maintains the attack on the Caucasian couple wasn't racially-motivated.

"I promise you I'll redeem myself, make a better person in the community," Paakaula told the court. "And I deeply regret what happened."

The judge sentences him to five years in prison. Under a plea agreement, prosecutors say they'll go to the Hawaii parole board and recommend he serve two years of that term.

Prosecutors say the victims approve the deal.

"The emotional scars will not go away. It'll take some time," Don Pacarro, deputy prosecutor, said. "But they want to move on."

Something the Paakaulas would like to do as well.

Paakaula's teenaged son was also charged with assault in the case, and is serving a year at the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility.