Driver convicted in deadly crash says he's served enough time - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Driver convicted in deadly crash says he's served enough time

John Szemkow John Szemkow
Anilyn Cruz Anilyn Cruz
Don Pacarro Don Pacarro
Dr. Steven Dewitt Dr. Steven Dewitt
Edgar and Marlene Sagucio Edgar and Marlene Sagucio

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HALAWA (KHNL) - A driver convicted of causing a crash that killed four people in Kunia in 2006 says he's already served more than enough time in prison.

A parole hearing for John Szemkow took place at Halawa Prison Tuesday.

Szemkow has served six months of a 10-year sentence, all of that in the prison infirmary. His doctor there says he has multiple medical issues, including a complex neurological sleep disorder, which keep him from joining the general prison population.

Flanked by two new attorneys, John Szemkow appears frail as he is wheeled in with an oxygen tank. After serving six months at Halawa Prison, the retired Navy man wants out.

"Giving him parole in five to six months, it looks like this is very unfair for the family," Anilyn Cruz, victim's niece, said.

Prosecutors say Szemkow was on several medications, including morphine, for prior injuries when his car drifted into on-coming traffic on Kunia Road. A pickup filled with farm workers swerved, and then slammed into a cement truck.

"The most impairing set of drugs that I had seen in recent memory," Dr. Steven Dewitt, Halawa Prison infirmary, said about the medications Szemkow was taking before the crash.

"I was so ripped that I, I didn't know that I caused an accident," Don Pacarro, deputy prosecutor, said about the convicted driver.

Four farmers died. Eight others were injured.

Front-seat passenger Edgar Sagucio says he still has physical pain, as well as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

"I have to suffer for that financially," Marlene Sagucio, victim's wife, said through tears. "I have to be the father and the mother of my kids."

Szemkow must serve a one-year prison term -- or, at this point, six more months -- for the four counts of misdemeanor negligent homicide.

His 10-year sentence is for fleeing the scene of the crash. The parole board is expected to decide in one to two weeks whether to grant him parole on that more serious offense.

"I have no recollection at all of anything that happened," Szemkow told the board. "So I do not believe that I could be held responsible."

His new attorneys say they want to withdraw the no-contest plea he entered last year, and request a trial.

Powered by Frankly