WAILUKU - After being arrested for abusing his girlfriend two days before he was set to be sentenced for an earlier abuse, a Wailuku man was sentenced March 27 to a one-year jail term in both cases.
Dwayne Moore, 35, also was placed on five years' probation after he had pleaded no contest to felony abuse by strangulation in the later case.
Moore was holding his infant while arguing with the child's mother when he "grabbed her by the throat and restricted her breathing, not once but twice" in their home, said Deputy Prosecutor Kenton Werk.
Police said Moore also threatened to burn down the house with his girlfriend in it during the incident.
That occurred at 6:45 p.m. Nov. 26, two days before Moore was scheduled to be sentenced for abusing his girlfriend on Sept. 25, Werk said. He said Moore became angry after the woman told him she wanted to break up with him. She was holding the couple's 3-month-old child when he grabbed the baby from her and punched his girlfriend in the face twice, Werk said. He said the woman suffered a laceration to her lip.
In recommending the jail term, Werk said Moore has an extensive criminal record of 12 felony convictions. Moore was convicted of abuse twice in 2001 and faced a battery charge in Florida in 2010, Werk said.
Deputy Public Defender Aisha Hill said much of Moore's prior record was drug-related, and he no longer abuses drugs. Moore had seen the cycle of domestic violence in his family as a child and knows it's not right, Hill said.
While there is no defense for Moore's actions, "he's someone who is trying to make himself better," Hill said. He said a letter to the court from Moore's girlfriend described how he had changed.
"He's essentially a full-time mom for his child," Hill said, referring to Moore's newborn son who was in the courtroom gallery Wednesday.
"I'm not proud of what I did," Moore said in court.
"It's hard to change, but I get the willingness. My family and friends, pastor and bail bondsman - they all believe in me."
Moore asked to be allowed to remain free so he could see his son have a first birthday party that none of his other children had.
While being there for a child's first birthday is significant, it's not as important as being there for the rest of the child's years, 2nd Circuit Judge Richard Bissen said.
"Who you are when you come out of jail is more important than who you are going into jail," Bissen told Moore. "You need to let them know when dad makes a mistake, dad has to pay a penalty for that.
"I do credit you for taking responsibility. But you are not able to escape your past. You have a long record, you know that."
Moore still has an unresolved criminal case in Florida, Bissen said. While Moore was released on supervision in his Maui cases, there was an allegation that he submitted a urine sample that had been tampered with, Bissen said.
He followed a plea agreement between the defense and prosecution in sentencing Moore. He was ordered not to consume alcohol or illegal drugs and to undergo anger management or domestic violence intervention treatment.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.