Lesser charges for lack of evidence

WAILUKU – After the prosecution dismissed more serious charges alleging sexual assault and kidnapping, a man was placed on one year’s probation for a misdemeanor assault charge.

Philip Robbennolt, 48, was given credit for about three months he had spent in jail as part of his sentencing Friday.

Robbennolt was arrested after a 20-year-old Kula woman reported being driven to a Haiku pasture by him after he gave her two oxycodone pills and said he knew a place where she could smoke one pill the night of June 15. During a preliminary hearing, the woman testified she was tied up, strangled and had a bag put over her head and a knife held against her neck by Robbennolt.

He originally faced charges of three counts of first-degree sexual assault, kidnapping, first-degree terroristic threatening, two counts of first-degree attempted assault, third-degree assault and interfering with reporting of an emergency.

As part of a plea agreement, the prosecution dismissed all counts except for the third-degree assault charge.

Second Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza, who had committed to following a plea agreement calling for probation for Robbennolt, said it was represented to the court that most of the charges were dismissed “because the prosecution, having completed its full investigation in the matter, concluded that there was insufficient evidence to prove those counts beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Robbennolt had been released from jail Sept. 30 after he changed his plea to no contest to the third-degree assault charge.

As part of his sentence, Robbennolt was ordered not to consume alcohol or illegal drugs and to complete anger management classes. He was ordered to have no contact with the woman and to abide by any restraining order against him.

After the sentencing Friday, Deputy Public Defender Wendy Hudson said the defense believed the charge was appropriate because Robbennolt and the woman had gotten into a scuffle.

“We appreciate the state’s willingness to make a plea agreement in this case because it was apparent to both the state and the defense that the complainant was not truthful about the incident,” Hudson said. “There was no medical evidence that there was a sexual assault, and there was no medical evidence of sexual injury of any kind.

“Her testimony at the preliminary hearing was more akin to a movie script than to reality.”

“We understand she’s got a major drug problem, but that doesn’t excuse her lies, and my client remained in custody because of her lies.”

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at lfujimoto@mauinews.com.