Judge ‘reluctantly’ grants probation in threatening, custodial interference case

WAILUKU — A man who spent more than a year in jail before being released to enter treatment was placed on four years’ probation for threatening a babysitter when he went to a Wailuku residence and took his son.

In sentencing Michael Edwards on Aug. 30, 2nd Circuit Judge Peter Cahill said he was “reluctantly” following terms of a plea agreement between the defense and prosecution.

Edwards, 51, of Kihei had pleaded no contest to first-degree terroristic threatening, second-degree custodial interference and violating an order for protection.

Police said Edwards went to the home at about 5:30 a.m. Feb. 8, 2017, and brandished a knife blade while threatening to kill the babysitter. Then he went into a bedroom, picked up his 5-year-old son from a bed and left, police said.

Under a court order for protection obtained by the boy’s mother, Edwards wasn’t allowed at the residence and wasn’t allowed to take his son from the home, according to police.

At his sentencing Thursday, Deputy Public Defender Danielle Sears said Edwards was sober and doing well. He had completed treatment on Oahu and was attending anger management classes, Sears said.

“But the problem isn’t when he’s doing well,” Judge Cahill said. “The problem is when he’s not doing well. How do we protect the other people in the meantime if he relapses?”

Sears said the mother of Edwards’ son could seek a court order for protection or call Edwards’ probation officer if there were a problem. He asked to be allowed to have contact with her so he could see his son.

Edwards said he has been sober for 19 months.

“I’ve been doing everything I’m supposed to do,” he said. “I just can’t drink. I’m not that person when I don’t drink.”

“Let’s get something straight,” Cahill said. “Your drinking clearly is a part of the problem, but that’s not the whole problem. So we’re supposed to excuse your criminal behavior and your crimes because you drink?”

Cahill referred to Edwards’ criminal history including three felony convictions dating to the 1980s in other states.

“This is a person who spent a long and a lot of time in prison,” Cahill said. “You’re here for this, but I can’t ignore the past.

“I’ll give you a chance for probation, but it is a close call.”

Edwards was ordered not to threaten or harm his son, her mother and his babysitter.