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Robbery, drug counts lead to 10 years in prison

WAILUKU — After robbing tourists in Wailea and twice being arrested with large amounts of methamphetamine, a man was sentenced July 11 to 10 years in prison.

Dawson Suzuki, 29, had no prior felony convictions before being charged in three criminal cases last year, attorneys said.

“He went from a DUI all the way up to Class B felonies — essentially, from preschool to a graduate’s degree in crime,” said Deputy Prosecutor Ryan Teshima.

In three criminal cases, Suzuki had pleaded no contest to second-degree robbery, second-degree promoting of a dangerous drug and a reduced charge of attempted second-degree promoting of a dangerous drug.

Other charges were dismissed in exchange for his pleas.

In one case in February 2018, Suzuki “was caught selling methamphetamine right out in the open,” Teshima said.

Two emergency medical technicians on their lunch break “saw him doing a drug deal in broad daylight,” Teshima said.

He said police found Suzuki near Kenolio Park in Kihei with a large amount of the drug.

A couple of months later, in April 2018, Suzuki robbed tourists who were leaving the Shops at Wailea and walking back to their car in the early evening, Teshima said. He said Suzuki snatched a woman’s purse, knocking her to the ground and pushing down her husband.

In July 2018, Suzuki was arrested again when he was found with 11 grams of methamphetamine, Teshima said.

He argued that a prison sentence was appropriate because of “the use of force and violence in one case and these large amounts of methamphetamine.”

“We’re not talking about scrapings found in a pipe. We’re not talking about dime baggies,” Teshima said. “These are nearly an ounce, which we all know greatly harms the community.”

Suzuki, who has already spent about a year in jail, asked to be placed on probation.

He offered apologies to the tourist family, as well as his wife and daughter.

“I was deep into my addiction at the time, and I wasn’t thinking clearly,” Suzuki said in court. “I know what I did was wrong, and I’m ready to deal with the consequences.”

Deputy Public Defender Heather Brown said Suzuki has a history of drug abuse since he was in the 5th grade, starting with alcohol, then marijuana and methamphetamine.

“He’s still struggling, till today, with all three of those substances,” she said.

When he was growing up, his parents struggled with drug use off and on, Brown said.

“He grew up with drugs in the home,” she said. “He grew up in poverty. He grew up lacking basic needs, discipline.”

Given his circumstances, Brown said it was unusual that Suzuki hadn’t been on probation as a juvenile.

Before becoming homeless and committing crimes to support his habit after a “downward spiral” in 2017, Suzuki had been working and was a skilled chef, Brown said.

She said the robbery was a “purse snatching gone horribly wrong.”

Suzuki ran up from behind the woman to grab her purse, Brown said. The woman held on, and she and Suzuki struggled over the purse before he took it and the woman lost her balance and fell, Brown said. She said the woman was holding hands with her husband, who also fell.

“Dawson didn’t have any intention to harm that woman that night,” Brown said.

In sentencing Suzuki to concurrent 10-year prison terms, 2nd Circuit Judge Peter Cahill said, “Had it just been the two drug matters, I wouldn’t do this.”

“This was a serious crime of violence,” Cahill said. “I don’t think it’s a good argument to say he didn’t intend to cause harm. When you commit the crime, the actions and consequences resulting from that are necessarily part of what you did.”

Suzuki was also ordered to pay $400 in restitution.

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