WAILUKU - With a deputy prosecutor saying a Haiku man had been seen toting a rifle and driving a stolen car during a crime spree last year, he was sentenced Friday to a 10-year prison term.
Because of prior felony convictions, including several for driving stolen vehicles, Craig Kekaha, 32, wasn't eligible for probation, said 2nd Circuit Judge Richard Bissen.
He said that despite Kekaha's history of alcohol and drug use starting at a young age, Kekaha wasn't eligible for treatment through the Maui Drug Court program because one of his crimes involved a firearm.
Kekaha had pleaded no contest to prohibited possession of a firearm, keeping a firearm in an improper place, three counts of unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle and two counts of second-degree theft in five cases resulting from incidents in the spring and summer last year.
In one case, Kekaha was seen driving a stolen Subaru during a high-speed chase from Wailuku to Kihei, ending when he drove the vehicle into a sugar cane field, where it was set on fire, said Deputy Prosecutor Jeffery Temas. At one point during the police pursuit, Kekaha drove at speeds nearing 100 mph on the wrong side of the highway, Temas said.
In another case, he said surveillance photos showed Kekaha driving a Jeep stolen from Maalaea. Temas said Kekaha was seen carrying a rifle with a scope, despite prior felony convictions that prohibit him from having firearms.
Kekaha also was convicted of stealing an all-terrain vehicle from the old Maui Block in Waikapu, and he was seen driving a stolen pickup truck in a high-speed chase, Temas said.
He said Kekaha placed the community in jeopardy "with his high-risk behavior."
When Kekaha turned himself in to police in July 2011, "he looked like death," said defense attorney Andrew Martin.
He said Kekaha's mother said she was "trying to save her son's life."
"I've never experienced anyone who was in the throes the way Craig was," Martin said. "His family had been in touch with me for about a week before that and fortunately were able to intervene and more importantly, were on some level able to get to Craig.
"It's unfortunate that Craig didn't have the mindset that he does now a decade ago."
In 2006, Kekaha was sentenced to a five-year prison term in stolen-vehicle cases. Because of his multiple prior felony convictions, he was required to serve the entire sentence without being paroled.
This time, Martin said Kekaha hoped to be paroled into a residential drug treatment program.
As part of a plea agreement, the prosecution didn't seek repeat offender mandatory sentencing that would have required Kekaha to complete the entire 10-year prison term without parole.
"You have a chance to be paroled," Bissen told Kekaha. "I hope that works out for you."
Kekaha was ordered to pay $3,232 in restitution for the theft of the all-terrain vehicle.
Temas said victims in the other cases didn't request restitution.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.