WAILUKU - A man who had evaded police for months before his capture last year was sentenced Thursday to a 15-year prison term for a fatal shooting two years ago in Kaupo.
Robert Chiarizia, 41, agreed to serve the entire term, as part of a plea agreement reducing charges in the case.
"This is certainly an act that was out of character for him," said Maryland attorney Francis Pommett III, who represented Chiarizia. "He is a hardworking individual, a very gentle person no one would expect any violent behavior from."
Robert Chiarizia appears in 2nd Circuit Court for a bail hearing in July 2010. He had evaded police for months after the Oct. 18, 2009, fatal shooting of 45-year-old Alan Alika Vegas of Kaupo. He was sentenced Thursday to a 15-year prison term.
The Maui News file photo
Originally charged with second-degree murder and using a firearm in the commission of a felony, Chiarizia had pleaded no contest to first-degree assault and keeping a firearm in an improper place.
The Oct. 18, 2009, shooting killed 45-year-old Alan Alika Vegas of Kaupo.
According to police, Vegas had been told to leave private property and did, but then returned to get gas. He was shot once with a rifle, with the bullet puncturing his lung.
Vegas was driven out of the remote area toward Ulupalakua and flown to Maui Memorial Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Chiarizia, who was described as a survivalist, was arrested eight months later on July 26, 2010, at a campsite about one-fourth mile from the shooting scene on undeveloped land on the Hana side of Kaupo General Store.
Pommett said Chiarizia accepted responsibility for his actions. "While he certainly didn't intend for Mr. Vegas to die, that was the end result," Pommett said.
With the resolution of the case, he said it was hoped that "the Vegas family could move on with their lives and feel some sort of closure."
Chiarizia, who was born in Washington, D.C., has lived on Maui since January 2005, doing various cash jobs, according to court records.
Pommett said the plea agreement took into consideration Chiarizia's background, including his lack of prior criminal convictions, his college education and his military service.
"He did honorably serve the country in the Iraq war," Pommett said.
He said Chiarizia's mother, stepfather and sister were in the courtroom gallery for the sentencing Thursday.
Deputy Prosecutor Carson Tani said that Vegas' family approved of the plea agreement. It calls for Chiarizia to agree to serve the entire term when he appears before the Hawaii Paroling Authority.
Second Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza, who followed the plea agreement in imposing the sentence, ordered Chiarizia to pay $2,468 in restitution.
Wailuku attorney William Sloper also represented Chiarizia.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.