KANEOHE (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Windward Oahu teacher accused of throwing a claw hammer and injuring a student in April gave up his court fight by pleading no contest Monday.
David Izumi's jury-waived trial for third-degree assault was scheduled for Monday. But he decided to give up his right to a trial without the benefit of a plea deal, knowing full well that it could cost him his job.
The longtime educator and robotics coach says he feels horrible about what happened and wishes that he could take it back.
Family, friends and former students showed up at Kaneohe District Court to show their support for a Kailua High teacher accused of a startling crime.
"He's a really loving person. He does community service, does cooking for the churches," Andrew Ikeda, former student, said. "So it was a real big shocker."
Investigators say a male student suffered a gash to his head that required several stitches when he was struck by a hammer that was tossed by his wood shop teacher, David Izumi.
Saying he just didn't feel right about fighting the charge, the defendant pleaded no contest to third-degree assault.
"I wish there was something I could say or something I could do to let him know how much I, how sorry I am," he said.
Defense attorney William Domingo says his client was dealing with the deaths of three family members and other stressful issues, and that his actions were not intentional.
"I picked up the tool because they leave the tools around," Izumi recalled. "The student was sitting to my back, to my left side. I just, I looked and I'd seen glass. I said, oh, and I tried to hold it back. It came out of my hand and hit the student."
Armed with dozens of letters of support, the 51-year-old is asking for a deferral, which is an opportunity to keep the misdemeanor conviction off his record.
Izumi remains on paid administrative leave, but says his principal has recommended termination. He's going up the state Department of Education chain of command in hopes of saving the career he's had for 12 years.
"It's my life to teach," he said. "The way I feel about teaching, it's hard not to teach."
Izumi's lawyer says his client always dealt with difficult personal matters himself, but is now undergoing counseling to help him deal with stress better.
The judge will rule on his deferral request at his sentencing September 28th.