Man who threatened mother receives 5 years’ probation

WAILUKU – A judge told a man he needed to deal with his mental health and drug issues, as he was placed on five years’ probation Friday for threatening his mother in a phone message last year.

Eric Stroeve, 45, was given credit for 507 days he had previously spent in jail.

He was released from jail in August when he pleaded no contest to first-degree terroristic threatening. As part of a plea agreement, the prosecution dismissed a charge of attempted murder against Stroeve.

The plea agreement was reached after Stroeve’s attorney, Matthew Nardi, had filed motions to suppress evidence, including five types of hammers, a crescent wrench and a dumbbell that police found when they went to the family’s Launiupoko residence April 4, 2012, to serve Stroeve with a warning citation to leave the home.

The defense also sought to throw out as evidence Stroeve’s statement to a police officer that he was going to use the tools to “bash in” the heads of his mother and stepfather.

Police went to the home after Stroeve’s mother reported receiving a voice mail message that evening from Stroeve that said in part, “I will crush both of your skulls.” The message, which was played in court Friday, also told his mother to turn herself in to the Police Department.

“At the time, he was really under a mistaken belief and really did think she had committed a horrible crime and wanted her to turn herself in,” Nardi said. “He certainly did not have criminal intent. This was really what we deemed a perfect storm of events. It is very unlikely to repeat itself.”

In a letter to the court, Stroeve’s mother described what happened as “a plea for justice and nothing else,” Nardi said.

Stroeve said he was sorry.

“I never wanted to believe what I believed that night,” he said in court. “I didn’t have any criminal intent. I was just trying to get to the bottom of a bunch of stuff that had happened around me.”

Stroeve asked for a chance to keep the conviction off his record. Nardi said Stroeve has a business and job and has had few police contacts.

Deputy Prosecutor Emlyn Higa opposed the request.

In addition to the message Stroeve left for his mother, he left a voice mail message the same day on the phone of his stepbrother’s wife that threatened to kill his mother, Higa said.

“This is not an isolated incident,” Higa said.

He said Stroeve’s ex-wife reported he has a history of similar incidents, including in the late 1990s when he was abusing drugs and “patrolling the streets saying he was in charge of safety.”

His ex-wife described angry outbursts by Stroeve that scared his family so much that they left their homes, Higa said.

He said there also were reports of Stroeve throwing a television in a driveway and “pulling a handgun on kitesurfers he thought were messing with his equipment.”

In another incident in California, Stroeve overheard hikers talking about an unsolved murder and became convinced they were responsible, Higa said. He said Stroeve “became so worked up” that he “engaged in a weeklong vigil and barricaded himself in the house.”

“In all of these instances, mental health issues were implicated, substance abuse issues were implicated,” Higa said. “In each of these instances, treatment was either never sought or was not maintained.”

He said reports from three psychiatrists or psychologists who examined Stroeve as part of his latest court case discussed his cannabis abuse.

Nardi said two of the three professionals ruled out cannabis as contributing to his behavior.

While placing Stroeve on probation, 2nd Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo denied his request for a chance to keep the conviction off his record. Based on his history, she said it was likely he would again engage in criminal behavior.

Loo said family members believe Stroeve has mental health issues, and he also needs help for his drug use.

“You need to take care of these problems,” Loo told Stroeve. “Until you deal with these demons, you will end up in the criminal justice system.”

Stroeve was ordered not to consume alcohol or illegal drugs, including medical marijuana, and to obtain mental health treatment.

He also was ordered to have no contact with his stepbrother, his wife and their children.

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at