Suspect in hit-and-run that killed teen had 164 traffic violations dating back 3 decades, records show
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The suspect in the hit-and-run that killed 16-year-old Sara Yara as she walked to school has a lengthy record of traffic offenses and has been driving without a license for years, despite frequent stops by police.
Mitchel Miyashiro, 45, was released shortly after turning himself into police on Thursday.
Yara’s family was public about their grief when they visited the scene on Kapiolani Boulevard in hopes of quick justice for her death. Miyashiro’s release pending further investigation may be hard to accept, but it is normal in vehicular homicide cases.
Defense attorney Patrick McPherson, who does not represent Miyashiro, said hit-and-run cases require a detailed investigation that takes time. “Many times you have a hit-and-run accident, the person was drinking,” McPherson said.
“They run because the alcohol increases the offense level. So now it makes it more difficult to prove.”
The investigation requires police to search and thoroughly examine the abandoned vehicle to rule out other drivers and confirm it was the same truck that struck the victim.
It could also involve retracing Miyashiro’s actions before the incident to see if he was drinking or using drugs.
A Hawaii News Now examination of Miyashiro’s traffic record turned up virtually every offense except drunk driving.
Court records going back to 1996 show at least 164 traffic infractions and crimes.
In the last five years, court records show, he was stopped 12 times for allegedly driving without a license. He was convicted six times for the offense, which is a traffic crime, but was never sentenced to time in jail.
That’s even though that as a repeat offender, he was potentially eligible for jail time.
McPherson said some drivers get more dangerous as they go years without a license.
“They become a little more reckless in their driving because there’s no accountability, there’s no responsibility,” he said.
“So the driver just drives however they want to because it doesn’t really matter.”
If police can’t prove drugs or alcohol were involved in his driving, Miyashiro could still get 10 years for fleeing the scene of the death ― the same penalty as a drunk driving homicide.
But under a new law inspired by the tragic death of Kaulana Werner in 2016, hit-and-run combined with DUI could bring even more time. The Werner family expressed support for Yara’s oved ones and hope “Kaulana’s Law” may provide some comfort.
“I hope prosecutors and HPD after the investigation, they do apply this extended imprisonment, which is 10 more years added on,” said Kaulana’s father Ed Werner.
Miyashiro’s attorney declined to comment on the case.
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