Man who tried to help at Foodland stabbing released
Sentence includes 4 years’ probation for drug, gun charges
WAILUKU — A man who said he turned to drugs after being injured when he intervened in a fatal stabbing at Foodland Kehalani was released from jail and placed on four years’ probation Thursday.
James Reeves, 35, of Haiku had been incarcerated after his arrest the night of Nov. 18 in the parking lot of Napili Market.
Lahaina police officers, responding to a report of suspicious activity, reported finding Reeves with an unregistered Taurus 9 mm semi-automatic pistol and a smoking pipe containing methamphetamine.
Deputy Public Defender Danielle Sears said a plea agreement recommending probation to resolve Reeves’ case was “heavily negotiated.”
She said the state attorney general’s office handled the case because Reeves is a potential witness in the case against Stephen B. Schmidt, who is charged with murdering his estranged wife, Kehau Farias Schmidt.
The 24-year-old woman died after her throat was slit while she and a friend were shopping in the Wailuku store the night of April 19, 2016.
Reeves was in the checkout line when he went to help after hearing the woman screaming in an aisle, he said in an interview from his hospital bed a few days afterward. He said he followed Schmidt, who held a knife as he ran out of the store, and fought with him outside to try to keep him from leaving before police arrived.
When Schmidt went back into the store, Reeves said he was trying to keep Schmidt from hurting Farias Schmidt even more when he slipped on her blood and was stabbed in the chest.
Reeves suffered a collapsed lung and numerous cuts in the attack. Another bystander who was trying to help Farias Schmidt also was stabbed.
“He was a victim as well as a hero in getting himself involved in trying to help,” Sears said in court Thursday.
At the time, Reeves was on probation and “doing great,” she said.
But after what happened at Foodland, “I made a few mistakes,” Reeves said in court Thursday.
“I turned to drugs as a coping mechanism,” he said.
“I’d like this opportunity to get my life back in order, to prove I can be somebody good in the community and not somebody negative,” Reeves said. “I’d just like to apologize for my actions.”
Second Circuit Judge Peter Cahill said what Reeves did in the Foodland store “was extraordinary.”
“It can’t really excuse other bad behaviors, but it does show that there are some people, when faced with an extraordinary circumstance, are willing to risk their own lives,” Cahill said. “That was the equivalent of somebody being in a combat situation where a regular person walking down the street would never think of doing anything. That didn’t stop you from doing that. All of us need to recognize that.”
The judge said Reeves appeared to have suffered post-traumatic stress disorder.
“I think maybe you were prone to going back to the drugs because you’ve had that in the past,” Cahill told Reeves. “I do think you have a lot of potential. You’ve proven that in the past at the risk of your own life.
“No one knows what they would do until they’re in that type of situation. But we now know what you did.”
Reeves had pleaded guilty to keeping a pistol or revolver in an improper place, prohibited possession of a firearm, third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug, possessing drug paraphernalia and failing to obtain a permit to acquire ownership of a firearm.
As part of his four years’ probation, Reeves was ordered not to consume alcohol or illegal drugs and not to possess firearms and ammunition. He also was ordered to obtain substance abuse treatment and a mental health assessment.
In a 2014 case, Reeves was resentenced to probation for a firearms conviction.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.