WAILUKU - A man was ordered to perform 500 hours of community service after he was arrested last year for threatening a neighbor and his children with an assault rifle.
"Probation is appropriate for this particular defendant despite the seriousness and gravity of the offense," said 2nd Circuit Judge Peter Cahill, who followed a plea agreement in sentencing Philip Ballard to five years' probation July 30.
But Cahill warned Ballard that "the first violation, there's going to be serious consequences."
Ballard, 54, was given credit for five days he spent in jail after his arrest Oct. 14, 2012.
Police were called to the Puuone Gardens apartment complex on Liholiho Street in Wailuku after a resident reported that Ballard pointed a rifle at the resident and his four children, ages 11, 10, 7 and 4 months, as they were getting into their vehicle. The resident told police that Ballard had been next to a car loading bullets into a magazine and telling the resident he would "light you up right here." Ballad reportedly also said, "Do you want some of this?" while holding the rifle.
About 20 minutes earlier, at about 12:45 p.m., the man and his wife had been unloading groceries from the vehicle when Ballard had yelled at the couple to use their own parking stall, police said. The couple's vehicle had been parked next to a stairwell to their apartment.
After pointing the rifle, Ballard drove away, police said.
Police obtained the license number of the vehicle, which officers stopped a couple of hours later as it was turning onto Mahalani Street from Kaahumanu Avenue. Ballard's mother, who owns the vehicle and was in the passenger seat, gave permission for police to search the car. In the trunk, police reported finding the AR-15 rifle, which was loaded with one round in the chamber, police said. Police also recovered three 30-round magazines, each containing 22 to 27 bullets. It's illegal to have a magazine that can carry more than 10 rounds.
As part of the plea agreement between the defense and the prosecution, Ballard had pleaded no contest to first-degree terroristic threatening, a reduced charge of second-degree reckless endangering, prohibited possession of a firearm, acquiring a firearm without registration and possession of a prohibited pistol magazine.
At the time of the incident, Ballard was unemployed and had just been notified that he was being evicted from his apartment in the complex, said Deputy Prosecutor Lewis Littlepage.
Defense attorney Sam MacRoberts said Ballard was "contrite and repentant."
MacRoberts said Ballard has no prior felony convictions and successfully completed probation for a misdemeanor abuse charge involving a fight with his older brother.
"This is an isolated incident," MacRoberts said. "I think probation will address any concerns the community may have."
Littlepage said no other firearms or ammunition were found in a search of Ballard's apartment done after his arrest.
Ballard's sentencing had been delayed twice after Ballard refused to provide his address and phone number to his probation officer, according to court records.
Cahill said July 30 that Ballard had since complied with the requirement.
As part of his probation, Ballard was required to attend and complete anger management classes and treatment services and to undergo a mental health assessment.
Cahill also ordered Ballard to write a letter apologizing to the victim and his family.
"If you don't do that, I am going to consider that as a most serious violation of probation," Cahill told Ballard.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at email@example.com.