WAILUKU - A 29-year-old man was ordered to complete anger management treatment after punching a land steward who was trying to get the man to remove his all-terrain vehicle from the Maui Coastal Land Trust refuge in Waihee last year.
Nahinu Freitas of Wailuku also was placed on five years' probation as part of his sentence Tuesday.
Originally charged with second-degree robbery, Freitas had pleaded no contest to a lesser charge of second-degree theft as well as third-degree assault in the Jan. 25, 2011, incident.
"I was just down there, walking my dog, giving her some exercise," Freitas said in court. "I didn't mean for any of this to happen. I don't go out looking for violence. I just want to apologize about how I handled myself."
Freitas was sitting quietly and looking toward the cliffs of Kahakuloa, as he had often done, when the the other man yelled at Freitas to leave, said defense attorney Jon Apo. He said the man "refused to identify himself" as a land steward.
The two talked before the man again began yelling at Freitas, who said he would hit the man if he again told Freitas to leave, Apo said. The victim yelled at Freitas to leave, and he punched the man, Apo said.
He said Freitas admitted to the assault but not to taking the man's phone, which led to the original robbery charge.
The victim reported having a pain level of one on a 10-point scale when he went to the doctor that evening, Apo said. He said Freitas, a trained martial artist, could have caused greater injury if he had wanted to do more than stop the man from being disorderly while Freitas was paying respect to his ancestors.
Freitas asked for a chance to keep the convictions off his record.
Deputy Prosecutor Carson Tani opposed the request.
He said the land steward, who is smaller than Freitas, was trying to have Freitas remove the all-terrain vehicle because of the potential damage to the refuge.
"It ruins the landscape. It causes erosion," Tani said.
He said there are signs posted at the refuge prohibiting all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles.
Apo said the signs were put up after the confrontation with Freitas.
Second Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza denied Freitas' request for a chance to keep the convictions off his record. Freitas was ordered to have no contact with the victim.
According to court records, Freitas has a prior conviction for third-degree promotion of a detrimental drug.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.