Jail term suspended for woman arrested driving stolen truck

WAILUKU — A woman caught driving a stolen truck had a one-year jail term suspended Thursday on the condition that she complete a residential treatment program.

Breeze Carvalho, 38, was ordered to continue living at Malama Family Recovery Center for at least six months as part of four years’ probation.

At the request of the defense, 2nd Circuit Judge Richard Bissen amended part of the sentence he ordered on May 31 that required one year of electronic monitoring for Carvalho.

Instead, he said Carvalho wouldn’t be allowed to leave Malama Family Recovery Center except to attend court hearings, medical appointments and Sunday church services during the six months, similar to being under house arrest.

During a trial in February, Carvalho was found guilty of unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle.

Police solo bike officer James Burkett stopped her for speeding in a school zone on Kula Highway in Keokea while she was driving the 2014 Toyota Tacoma the morning of Sept. 19. A man was in the passenger seat walked away after the traffic stop, and Carvalho at first gave her name as that of a high school classmate.

She testified during the trial that the passenger had let her drive the truck, which she thought was his.

But during her sentencing last month, Carvalho said she knew the truck was stolen but denied taking it during a burglary Sept. 18 at a Kihei home. She said two people gave the truck to her then-boyfriend because “he’s someone people do a lot of things for.”

Carvalho said she learned she was pregnant after being arrested “and then everything changed.”

After her family posted bail so she could be released, Carvalho entered the Malama Family Recovery Center and gave birth to her daughter, said Deputy Public Defender Tyler Stevenson.

“This is not the same person we saw several months ago,” he said. “She has a lot to be clean and sober for, to stay out of jail.”

While Carvalho asked to be placed on probation, Deputy Prosecutor Lyle Keanini recommended a five-year prison term.

He cited Carvalho’s four-page criminal history, including a 2003 deferral.

In 2008, she had 15 felony convictions dismissed when she successfully completed the Maui Drug Court program of treatment and supervision.

The year before she was arrested for driving the stolen truck, she was convicted of fourth-degree theft, Keanini said.

“The defendant has had many chances to change her life but has chosen not to take advantage of those opportunities,” Keanini said.

Since being released from jail this year, Carvalho said she has been in therapy, attending church and taking care of her newborn.

“She’s got a few issues, and it’s probably due to my use,” Carvalho said. “She needs me. I should have took that into consideration beforehand. I know I can be successful on probation. I haven’t been successful in the past because I was a lot younger and didn’t really care. I care now.”

Judge Bissen said Carvalho continued to be involved in drugs and poor decisions after the births of her two older children. “But it seems to be the birth of this child has created her wanting to engage in her recovery more,” he said.

“Whatever the reason, you seem motivated to change right now,” Bissen told Carvalho. “It’s important that you’re in that place right now in your life.”

He said the case didn’t warrant a prison sentence, but Carvalho did deserve jail for doing something illegal and trying to get away with it.