WAILUKU - For what a defense attorney called an "ill-conceived plan" to rob Minit Stop in Wailuku, a Kahului man was sentenced Tuesday to an 18-month jail term.
Joyner Recheungel, 25, also was placed on four years' probation.
Police said the robbery occurred at about 6:50 a.m. July 24 when Recheungel, holding what appeared to be a semi-automatic pistol, and co-defendant Rowan Sombelon, who had a collapsible baton, entered the store wearing hooded sweatshirts and masks. Another co-defendant, Stanceford Kaina Jr., was outside to be the lookout and getaway driver, police said.
After running from the store, Recheungel and Sombelon were arrested nearby. Shortly afterward, Kaina was arrested when he was stopped and ticketed for speeding on Honoapiilani Highway in Maalaea.
Defense attorney Jon Apo said that day "was the most shameful, the most regretful and most life-changing day of Mr. Recheungel's young life."
"With not much more than an airsoft pistol and an impulsive, ill-conceived plan with two accomplices, he did his best to be a criminal," Apo said.
He said Recheungel "pointed the airsoft pistol around, demanded money while swearing and even ordered people on the ground."
Halfway through the robbery attempt, Recheungel "realized the wrongfulness of his actions and left and abandoned his plan," Apo said.
He said store employee Amanda Vierra was the "hero" who shoved Recheungel out the door that day.
Police said Vierra knows Recheungel and recognized him as the robber.
Apo said Recheungel didn't mean to harm anyone.
But Deputy Prosecutor Carson Tani said Recheungel threatened to use force against those in the store.
"As far as they're concerned, there's a guy in the Minit Stop waving a gun around," Tani said. "As far as they were concerned, it was a real weapon. All the people in the Minit Stop were terrorized. Several of the workers were traumatized even after the incident was over."
More than a dozen people were in the courtroom gallery Tuesday to show support for Recheungel. Those who know him said what happened was out of character, Apo said.
Recheungel said he was sorry.
"What I did was wrong, morally and in God's eyes," he said.
During the approximately five months he has spent in jail, "God has really spoken to me in many ways," Recheungel said.
"I want to turn away from all the bad stuff I did in my past for my family's sake, for my friends' sake, for God's sake," he said.
Recheungel had pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of second-degree robbery, as well as three counts of first-degree terroristic threatening.
In sentencing Recheungel, 2nd Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza followed a plea agreement recommending probation.
Cardoza said it was fortunate that on the day of the robbery, the serious situation didn't turn tragic. He said Recheungel was in control of what happens next.
"I hope you will commit your life to demonstrating you have remorse for this situation," the judge told Recheungel.
He was ordered not to consume alcohol or illegal drugs and to stay away from all Minit Stop stores in the state.
Kaina, 23, of Wailuku was sentenced to an 18-month jail term as part of five years' probation after pleading no contest to a reduced charge of first-degree attempted theft.
Charges are pending against Sombelon, 24, of Wailuku, who posted bail to be released after his arrest.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.