Tempers ‘flaring’: Man nets jail for hitting wife’s car

WAILUKU – A Molokai man was ordered to turn himself in Monday morning to serve a one-year jail term for ramming his truck into his wife’s car after they argued last year.

“You are not a good candidate for probation,” 2nd Circuit Judge Richard Bissen said in sentencing Solomon Kupau Jr., 48, of Hoolehua. “The only thing that’s lucky for you today is you’re facing misdemeanor offenses.”

Kupau had pleaded no contest to reduced charges of third-degree criminal property damage and second-degree reckless endangering, as well as second-degree terroristic threatening.

After he and his wife had gotten into an argument, she was parked next to him and was making a U-turn to leave, driving about 2 mph when he intentionally ran into the side of her car, said Deputy Prosecutor Lloyd Phelps. She managed to get away and was driving about 40 mph when he ran into the back of her car, Phelps said.

He recommended the one-year jail term for Kupau, who has a criminal history of 57 arrests and 21 convictions – three for felony offenses.

Deputy Public Defender Jim Rouse sought probation for Kupau.

While “tempers were flaring” that day, Kupau has maintained that the brakes on his truck weren’t working properly, Rouse said. He said a mechanic verified that Kupau’s truck “was kind of a death trap.”

Bissen asked Kupau how many cars he hit as he drove the truck from Hoolehua to Kaunakakai.

“Only that one car,” Kupau said.

“You’re telling me, of all the cars in Kaunakakai that day, the only car you ran into was your wife’s car?” the judge asked.

“Yeah,” Kupau replied.

“I nevah intentionally bang her,” Kupau said. “I was mad at her. I love my wife.”

Bissen noted that Kupau, a graduate of the Drug Court program of treatment and supervision, tested positive for methamphetamine use once and didn’t show up for other tests while he was free on supervision in the case.

“That means you fooled the program,” Bissen told Kupau. “You didn’t stop using.”

“Drug Court’s a good program,” Bissen said. “It works for most people.”

Kupau said the program had worked for him, but he struggled after a problem with a family member he had entrusted to hold money for him.

The judge allowed Kupau to return to Molokai before turning himself in at the Maui Community Correctional Center so he could retrieve a medical device.