‘Cave man’ behavior earns Kahului man 18-month jail term

WAILUKU — Saying a defendant’s “cave man mentality” was unacceptable, a judge ordered an 18-month jail term for a man who strangled his then-girlfriend until she nearly lost consciousness, pressed the barrel of a rifle to her temple and hit her in the face with steel-toe boots.

Duwayne Tavares, 24, of Kahului was also placed on five years’ probation as part of his sentence Wednesday.

“I look at the facts of this case. It screams cave man, cave man mentality,” 2nd Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo said in sentencing Tavares. “I am letting you know that cave man mentality has no place in society. If you so much as harm one more hair on Taylor Correa’s head or anybody’s head, you will lose your freedom for a very, very long time.

“I’m taking away your club. I’m taking away your rifle. I’m taking away your freedom.”

Tavares had pleaded no contest to first-degree terroristic threatening, felony abuse of a household member, two counts of third-degree assault and abuse.

The incidents occurred July 31 and Aug. 1, 2016, while Correa and Tavares were living together in Kahului.

In another case, Tavares had pleaded no contest to first-degree theft of a Mossberg .22-caliber rifle and failing to obtain a permit to acquire a firearm in August 2016.

Supervising Deputy Public Defender William “Pili” McGrath said Tavares’ behavior at the time could be described as a “series of very bad mistakes.”

“He can’t really make up for them except by behaving properly now,” McGrath said.

As part of a plea agreement between the defense and prosecution, Tavares agreed to serve the 18-month jail term.

McGrath said Tavares understood that he would have to get a job and follow other court requirements or face going to prison for 10 years. “I know people will think that’s actually too easy, but it’s not that easy,” McGrath said.

Tavares declined to speak in court Wednesday.

Correa, who was accompanied by about two-dozen family members and friends in the courtroom gallery, said her relationship with Tavares was “two years of living in fear.”

“People say to forgive and forget. I honestly can’t see how others think it’s simple,” she said. “They have never lived through the hell that he put me through.

“Even to this day, I don’t feel safe.”

She said it was hard to relive what Tavares did to her. “The world needs to know what you did to me, and it’s not OK,” she said to Tavares.

The night of July 31, 2016, Correa said she told Tavares “I was done” when he grabbed her by the wrist, pushed her back, pinned her on the bed, and squeezed her neck so hard that she couldn’t gasp for air. She said she had to fight to get Tavares off her.

“If God hadn’t been watching over me that night, if He didn’t give me the strength to get you off me, I would probably not be here today,” she said.

When Tavares placed the rifle barrel against her temple, Correa said she closed her eyes and prayed, thinking her life would end.

During a fight the following night, he hit her with the steel-toe work boot.

She described other times when Tavares had beat her with metal poles, dragged her across the floor by her hair after she got out of the shower and cut her with a knife when she wanted to leave his friend’s house because Tavares was humiliating her.

“You woke me up by punching me in the face just because I didn’t do the laundry correctly, the way you liked it,” she said.

Correa said she had moved in with Tavares to try to help him and had been working two jobs and going to college, even buying a Toyota Tacoma because his car would break down. She said he never let her drive the Tacoma.

She said she had continued to support Tavares and didn’t call police until someone told her family what was happening.

“When you’re in a relationship for a few years, you truly do love someone,” she said, explaining why she hadn’t reported what happened at first. “You don’t want to see that person hurt, even though they’re the ones that hurt you. You got to hold on to some kind of hope because you have invested so much time in this person.

“The difference between then and now is I don’t love him anymore. I do demand justice now — not just for me but for every woman, man or child who has ever had to endure any type of abuse.”

Her sisters and parents asked that Tavares receive a sentence that was “harsher” than what was recommended in the plea agreement.

“The things he did to her she didn’t deserve,” said her father, Ericlee Correa. “I worry that other girls will get hurt, that Taylor is not the last at his hands.”

He said he and others had welcomed Tavares into the family, even though “he got disrespectful at times.”

“We tried to overlook it for Taylor’s sake,” Correa said. “Then I get a call, 2 in the morning, that Taylor was beaten up.

“I feel guilty too as a dad. I should be more intrusive.”

“I hope you change, Duwayne,” Correa said to Tavares. “One good Christian guy would say, ‘I love you, and I forgive you.’ But I still working on that. I not there yet. It’s hard.”

Before reaching the plea agreement with the defense, Deputy Prosecutor Carson Tani said he had meetings with Correa and her family, discussing the advantages and disadvantages of going to trial.

“We based this agreement upon what they told us they wanted,” Tani said. “But I do understand their emotions in this case.”

Judge Loo followed the plea agreement in sentencing Tavares.

But she said he would be on her short list of defendants who would be sentenced to prison for the “first misstep.”

As part of his probation, Tavares was ordered to pay $350 in restitution, perform 200 hours of community service and complete domestic violence intervention classes. He also was ordered not to consume alcohol or illegal drugs and to write a letter apologizing to Correa.

The Mossberg .22-caliber rifle was forfeited to the state.

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