2 get life behind bars for brutal beating of Big Island security guard
KONA, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The two people found guilty earlier this year in the brutal beating of a Big Island security guard have been sentenced to life behind bars with the possibility of parole.
Kona Circuit Judge Melvin Fujino sentenced Natisha Tautalatasi and Wesley Samoa on Thursday.
A third defendant, Lama Lauvao, received 10 years in prison.
The three were caught on security cameras last year brutally beating John Kanui, who was a security guard at the Kona Seaside Hotel.
Kanui is now a quadriplegic, and has a brain injury.
Prosecutors said the attack started because Kanui approached the three just after midnight on Sept. 17, 2018, and asked them to turn down their music.
Security cameras captured Kanui being pulled from his golf cart, and the three can then be seen punching and kicking him in the face ― even after he appears to be unconscious.
A jury found Samoa and Tautalatasi guilty of second-degree attempted murder, while Lauvao was found guilty of assault in the first degree.
“Today, all three of you can still walk on your own,” said Judge Fujino. “All three of you can still eat on your own. And all three of you can still teach your children and talk to them. Mr. Kanui cannot do any of this on his own because of your actions on September 17, 2018.”
Jennifer Farrell, the victim’s daughter, said the family is pleased each defendant received the maximum sentence.
“My life changed the day I thought my dad was going to die,” she said. “I was scared that I would never get to talk to him again.”
She said images of the attack still haunt her.
“It angers me that I had to explain to my own children how three individuals maliciously attacked their grandfather with such hate and evil,” she said.
“My dad was given a life sentence the moment these individuals made the choice to consume large amounts of alcohol. He did not deserve this and we as a family did not deserve this.”
Maggie Hill, the victim’s sister, added that Kanui served with the Hawaii National Guard for 20 years and was proud of his job.
“We are devastated, heartbroken, and angry that John’s quality of life was robbed from him and us,” she said. “This crime is unacceptable and incomprehensible.”
When it was the defendants turn to speak, each apologized to Kanui’s family and asked for forgiveness.
“To the family, I’m very sorry and I accept full responsibility for my actions,” said Samoa. “Sorry for the pain and hurt.”
Samoa’s mother dropped to her knees, begging the judge to give her son -- who is a father of 6 -- a lighter sentence.
“Have mercy. Have mercy. I don’t want to see my son with life in prison,” cried Eliza Samoa.
Tautalatasi also asked for leniency for her fiance and his cousin.
She claims they believed Kanui was attacking her.
“They didn’t understand what was happening,” said Tautalatasi. “All they saw was the female party, their other half, getting attacked. They didn’t get the whole story of it and what was really going on. None of us really remember what was going on."
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