With time served, Kihei man gets probation for ‘crime spree’

WAILUKU — After spending more than a year in jail, a Kihei man was released and placed on four years’ probation Wednesday for a “meth-induced crime spree” that included having a loaded firearm in a vehicle, threatening a police officer and crashing a stolen car.

Dustin Nakoa Kaauamo, 23, was sentenced under a plea agreement, with attorneys saying he was young and facing his first felony convictions.

Second Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo said Nakoa Kaauamo would face a longer prison sentence if he got in trouble again.

“You’re only young once,” she told Nakoa Kaauamo. “Next time you come back to the court, you’re not going to be young anymore. You’re going to be one of those old-timers who’s been around the block.

“With this record, this many crimes, you have a prison term written all over your chest. One more threat, one more stolen car, one more high-speed chase with guns and alcohol or drugs or whatever in your system, you got to go away.”

In four criminal cases, Nakoa Kaauamo had pleaded no contest to first-degree terroristic threatening, resisting an order to stop a motor vehicle, carrying or possessing a loaded firearm on a public highway, keeping a loaded firearm in an improper place, permit to acquire a firearm, unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle, third-degree theft and second-degree unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle.

“I’m sorry for the things I did,” Nakoa Kaauamo said in court.

When he appeared in court about two years ago, Nakoa Kaauamo pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor charge of unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle and had “virtually no criminal record whatsoever,” said Deputy Public Defender Zach Raidmae.

Then, “a lot of cases came down,” he said. “Dustin was in a bad place.”

But, after spending about a year and two months in jail, “he realizes he wants to be on the outside,” Raidmae said. “He wants to be part of his family.”

Deputy Prosecutor Annalisa Bernard Lee said Nakoa Kaauamo had no felony convictions when he was arrested in his first case.

“And then he went on this meth-induced crime spree where he was caught in vehicles with loaded firearms, where he was caught recklessly driving in stolen vehicles,” Bernard Lee said.

The night of May 23, 2016, Nakoa Kaauamo was injured when he crashed a stolen car.

According to police, the stolen car was speeding and being driven recklessly as it headed downhill on Haleakala Highway when it crossed the center median and collided with three vehicles traveling uphill.

Bernard Lee said there was methamphetamine in Nakoa Kaauamo’s system or in his vehicle whenever he got into trouble.

“This clearly was the result of a meth-induced crime spree that spanned at least two years,” victimizing both residents and visitors, she said.

She said Nakoa Kaauamo was young “and the reason for his actions is because of the illness of him doing drugs and meth.”

Judge Loo said Nakoa Kaauamo “wreaked havoc on a lot of people’s lives — going on wild goose chases, getting caught high on meth, almost killing yourself and almost killing innocent people.”

On Nov. 9, 2016, he tried to flee from police officers before being arrested on an all-points bulletin, according to police.

When Nakoa Kaauamo was questioned by Detective Leif Adachi, the defendant made threats that were “cruel and insensitive,” Judge Loo said. She noted that Nakoa Kaauamo talked about kicking the detective’s knee backward and putting him in a wheelchair and “taking out his whole lineage, from his grandfather all the way down.”

Nakoa Kaauamo also talked about burning the detective’s cars and home.

“This is a really vicious, mean-hearted threat,” Loo said. “You got to think before you talk.”

Nakoa Kaauamo was ordered to pay $1,682 in restitution and to perform 200 hours of community service. He also was ordered to write letters apologizing to the victims.

The firearm seized from his vehicle after a high-speed chase was forfeited to the state.

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

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