Young man gets 1 life sentence instead of 11 for crime spree

Eric Kawamoto
Eric Kawamoto
Walter Rodby
Walter Rodby

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - A small victory for a young man who's serving 11 life terms for an Oahu crime spree that ended with a shooting five years ago. On Friday, prosecutors dropped their request for extended sentencing, which means Miti Maugaotega's punishment has been reduced.

Miti Maugaotega -- who, as a 17-year-old, went on a rampage back in 2003 -- smiles as he walks into the courtroom.

"This boy, he's not a monster," Walter Rodby, defense attorney, said. "I mean, he's made a few mistakes."

Try 22 felonies.

"Armed robbery, sexual assault, home invasion burglaries, pistol whipping somebody who was a senior citizen, as well as shooting somebody," Peter Carlisle, Honolulu prosecutor, said.

Eric Kawamoto survived a bullet to his chest. He was shot after he walked in on a burglary at his Punchbowl home in June 2003.

"How do you feel each time that you have to see him?" this reporter asked the victim.

"I, I don't, I kind of blank that out," Kawamoto replied.

Maugaotega's cases triggered a new law that requires a jury -- not a judge -- to decide on a request for extended prison terms. But now, prosecutors withdraw their motion.

"The difficulty was is that we no longer had the original jury," Carlisle said. "So we were going to have to basically load up and get a brand new jury."

"I'm convinced that had we fought this in front of a jury, we would have prevailed," Rodby said.

So instead of 11 life terms, the 22-year-old is left with one life sentence plus 60 years.

"I was worried about them taking away the consecutive," Kawamoto said. "But they kept that so I'm satisfied."

For Maugaotega's many victims, it's a long time coming.

"Yeah, five years," Leslie Kawamoto, shooting victim's wife, said. "Yeah, it's, it's closure for all of us, and it's good to move on."

"All rise," the court bailiff announced. "Court stands in recess."

The Hawaii parole board will decide how much time Maugaotega must serve before he's eligible for release.