Man slaps teen, injuring eardrum, gets jail sentence

WAILUKU — A Wailuku man was ordered to turn himself in Friday to finish serving a three-month jail term for assaulting a teenage boy, who suffered a ruptured eardrum when he was slapped from behind in an unprovoked attack.

Talaiasi Vi, 21, was placed on four years’ probation as part of his sentence imposed Wednesday.

He had pleaded no contest to second-degree assault of the 14-year-old boy on March 13, 2018.

“It looks like this was unprovoked,” 2nd Circuit Judge Richard Bissen said in sentencing Vi. “It looked like there wasn’t any good reason.

“It looks like you were upset at somebody else and you took it out on this boy. You just didn’t like the fact that he witnessed what was going on, and you made it worse.”

A plea agreement between the defense and prosecution recommended four years’ probation and 30 days in jail for Vi.

But Deputy Prosecutor Lyle Keanini asked for a longer jail term after saying Vi had breached the plea agreement because he twice tested positive for marijuana use in March and April while he was free on supervision.

Keanini said the assault occurred when Vi “came from behind” and struck the boy in the head, rupturing his eardrum. It took about three months for the boy’s ear to get better, Keanini said.

In a letter to the court, the boy reported that his ear was fully healed after a year, Keanini said.

Vi asked to be spared additional jail.

He had previously spent 39 days in jail, said Deputy Public Defender Tyler Stevenson.

“He’s a very soft-spoken man,” Stevenson said. “He’s also a very large person, and that’s intimidating. He is still a young boy in a man’s body.”

Stevenson said he didn’t believe Vi wanted to rupture the boy’s eardrum.

“He has something inside of him that he needs to work out,” Stevenson said.

Vi said he was working and trying to help his mother after his father’s death. “I’m trying my best to be a better person,” he said.

When Judge Bissen asked Vi why he hit the boy, his answer was different from what the boy said.

“He says he was just watching you argue with a girl and you didn’t like the fact that he was watching you,” Bissen said. “You walked up, slapped him in the ear, broke his eardrum.”

Vi said he learned later that he is related to the boy.

While Vi tested negative for drug use in his most recent test May 9, Bissen said Vi had earlier accused employees of tampering with his sample at the Maui Intake Service Center, where he was ordered to report as part of his release on supervision.

“What bothers me is your attitude toward the workers,” Bissen said. “That shows to me you knew you were going to test positive and you were mad at them for asking for your sample. You thought you could intimidate them by staring them down, standing in their way, not letting them walk past.

“That’s part of the reason you’re going back to jail today.”

As part of his probation, Vi was ordered to complete anger management treatment and to have no contact with the victim.

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at lfujimoto@mauinews.com.