WAILUKU - A six-month jail term was ordered for a Kihei woman who reported being emotionally troubled when she stabbed her estranged husband in the back while he was trying to help her with her car.
Deann Colton, 58, also was placed on five years' probation as part of her sentence Wednesday.
In imposing the sentence, 2nd Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo said she had to balance the strides Colton had made in the past two years with the "very, very serious charge."
Originally charged with second-degree attempted murder, Colton had pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of first-degree assault.
Police were called at about 7 p.m. Oct. 30, 2010, to investigate a report that a man was lying on Uluniu Road near the Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall in Kihei.
A police investigation showed that Colton had "lured" her estranged husband, Luis Ochoa, to the secluded area by pretending to have car trouble, said First Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Robert Rivera.
He said Ochoa had been there for about two minutes and was bending under the hood of the car when he was stabbed with a steak knife.
The wound severed Ochoa's small and large intestine, putting him at risk of infection that could have been fatal, Rivera said.
He said Colton told police she felt "horrible" and had "planned to use the knife on herself but instead turned on him because of the way he was yelling at her or not responding to her while fixing the car that didn't need fixing."
Ochoa was hospitalized in the intensive-care unit after the stabbing, and Colton also was hospitalized after slitting her wrists, police said.
"I know he's hurt, and I'm sorry," Colton said in court, sobbing as she turned toward Ochoa, who was in the courtroom gallery. "I wouldn't hurt him on purpose. I don't know what happened to me. I don't want to hurt anybody. I'm doing what I can to be strong, get myself well in every way I can."
Deputy Public Defender Wendy Hudson said two of three psychiatrists or psychologists who examined Colton found that she wasn't legally responsible because of her mental state at the time. Colton was currently receiving mental health treatment, Hudson said.
"She's fully engaged and appears to be on the upswing trying to deal with these personal issues," Hudson said. "She's in a much better place."
Hudson argued for probation for Colton.
But Rivera asked for a 10-year prison term, saying Ochoa continued to suffer both physically and emotionally.
"It's affected me a lot," Ochoa said, also sobbing in court. "It seems like it keeps getting worse.
"I got a big scar down the front of my chest that reminds me every day what happened. I can't talk about it to anybody. Every time I look down I know I got stabbed and I was almost dead. I don't know why I'm still alive, but I have nightmares, and it's affected me."
Rivera said Ochoa exhibits signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Loo said it was sad that Colton would have stabbed "someone you at one point were deeply in love with."
The judge noted that police reports indicated two new knives were in Colton's car. In Ochoa's car, police found a couple of their wedding photos with "hurt, pain, lies and lies" written on them.
Loo allowed Colton to turn herself in Aug. 25 to begin the jail term after she completes medical treatment. She was ordered to pay $36,905 in restitution, complete an anger management program and have no contact with Ochoa.
After the sentencing, Hudson said probation was "totally warranted" for Colton, who had been in crisis that day.
Hudson disputed accounts that Colton had set a trap for Ochoa by luring him to the area. She said there had been a loose battery wire in Colton's car, which Ochoa fixed before police arrived. Because police were able to drive the car, Hudson said, police concluded Colton hadn't had car trouble.
Hudson also said that Colton had been in an abusive relationship, with Ochoa convicted once of abusing her.
Rivera said Ochoa and Colton had been estranged for months before the stabbing.
"The victim made it clear to law enforcement that they were in a dysfunctional relationship," Rivera said. "It may or may not have been abusive, but it was dysfunctional."
Rivera reiterated that there was no evidence of the car trouble that Colton had reported to get Ochoa to go to her aid.
"Luis made it clear there was nothing wrong with the car," Rivera said. "That was validated by the police investigation."
He said Ochoa wasn't vindictive and wasn't asking for a longer term of incarceration for Colton.
"But he wanted some kind of justice," Rivera said. "After the sentencing, the victim felt good. He felt now he can move forward because he at least had a voice. He was satisfied."
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.