Szemkow's bid for parole denied

John Szemkow
John Szemkow
Don Pacarro
Don Pacarro

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - The Hawaii parole board has denied early release for a driver convicted of causing a 2006 crash that killed four farmers in Kunia.

John Szemkow told the board earlier this month that he's already served more than enough time in prison. At this point, the panel doesn't agree.

Szemkow's attorney arrives at the Halawa Correctional Facility with a letter from the Hawaii parole board, denying early release for the driver convicted of causing a deadly crash.

"He's not happy," John Schum, Szemkow's attorney said. "He was hoping that he would be released, but he understands that this is complicated."

The board is denying parole because the retired Navy man has to serve a one-year term -- or, at this point, six more months -- for his four counts of misdemeanor negligent homicide anyway.

"The paroling authority is powerless to deal with that particular sentence," Schum said. "That's a punishment that they don't address."

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 slammed into a cement truck.

Four farmers died. Eight others were injured.

Szemkow was seeking parole on his 10-year sentence for fleeing the scene of the crash.

"Obviously, we're elated," Don Pacarro, deputy prosecutor, said. "I believe the families of the four people that died are happy about it."

The parole board plans to hold another hearing in six months.

"How rigorously will you folks continue to try to keep him in prison?" this reporter asked.

"We will be back," Pacarro said. "And I think we owe it to the victims who are not here."

Szemkow's attorney says he and his client are weighing their options.