WAILUKU - A judge said a Kahului woman's explanation for being in a closed auto parts store with a cart filled with merchandise was "beyond belief" as he placed the woman on five years' probation last week for burglary and attempted theft.
Second Circuit Judge Ri-chard Bissen denied Shawna Tallman's request for a chance to keep the convictions off her record, saying he believed she was likely to commit another crime.
The 24-year-old had pleaded no contest to charges of second-degree burglary, attempted second-degree theft and disorderly conduct in the May 14 incident at Napa Auto Parts in Kahului.
Police responded to the store on East Wakea Avenue when an alarm was activated shortly before 7 p.m. In a break room inside the store, police found Tallman talking on a cellular telephone and holding a garden hose and bag, according to court records. She reportedly told police she was trying to purchase items when she was locked in the store and didn't know how to get out. In her purse, police reported finding store items valued at $92.
Surveillance video showed her loading additional merchandise into a cart, with the value of merchandise totaling $1,224.
"I can't imagine someone being locked in a retail establishment with the lights turned off and the employees gone, not realizing the store was closed," Bissen said at Wednesday's hearing. "The explanation is beyond belief.
"She obviously hid in the store for the purpose of stealing the items. They make movies about this stuff."
Police reported that while officers tried to place Tallman in a police car, she refused to sit and grabbed a wheel well. She also swore at officers and bumped one officer with her chest while attempting to knee the officer in the groin, according to police.
Bissen noted that the arrest occurred less than two months after Tallman was sentenced for fourth-degree theft in a shoplifting case.
Bissen said he wasn't going to order additional jail for Tallman, who previously spent 69 days incarcerated. "But I wanted you to know your reaction and your explanation to the police were uncalled for," the judge told her.
In another sentencing Wednesday, a 22-year-old man was given a chance to keep burglary and theft convictions off his record if he follows court requirements for the next five years.
Keaka Kaulia-Neula was given credit for 84 days he previously spent in jail.
He had pleaded no contest to first-degree burglary and second-degree theft charges.
Kaulia-Neula was arrested after he was identified as one of two people seen entering a unit at Waiohuli Beach Hale in Kihei the afternoon of April 29. When the complex manager caught up with Kaulia-Neula on the beach and confronted him, he went into the ocean, tore open two trash bags he was carrying and emptied the contents into the ocean before fleeing, according to police reports.
Candace Deponte, 28, who was also seen going into the unit, was apprehended by officers on the beach that day, while Kaulia-Neula was arrested two days later.
His attorney Thomas Kolbe said Kaulia-Neula had suffered from chronic homelessness for much of his life but has no prior convictions and was close to obtaining the equivalent of his high school diploma.
In granting the request for a deferral, Bissen found that Kaulia-Neula was unlikely to commit another crime.
"You've had a rough start and maybe you can turn the corner now," the judge told Kaulia-Neula.
Deponte, who also pleaded no contest in the case, was placed on five years' probation and given credit for about two months she had spent in jail when she was sentenced earlier this month.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at email@example.com.