‘Soda sidekick’ is sentenced to 60-day jail term

WAILUKU — A man who said he didn’t share his co-defendant’s Pepsi addiction was sentenced to a 60-day jail term after he was arrested while driving a stolen car last year.

Piikoi Kahalehau Kekona, 21, of Waiehu also was placed on four years’ probation when he was sentenced Aug. 9.

Kahalehau Kekona was found driving the 1990 Honda 22 minutes after it was stolen June 12, 2018, from the parking lot of Uptown Texaco in Wailuku, said Deputy Prosecutor Annalisa Bernard Lee.

She said his cousin Christopher Montilliano Jr., who was in the car, told police he found the key in the ignition and “felt like taking the vehicle because he wanted soda.”

Montilliano picked up Kahalehau Kekona, who asked if he could drive and didn’t have a driver’s license, Bernard Lee said.

Second Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo sentenced Montilliano in March and suggested he refrain from drinking Pepsi after he said that was the kind of soda he was addicted to.

“I was wondering when the soda sidekick was going to show up,” Loo said while sentencing Kahalehau Kekona.

“Is your excuse that you were also addicted to Pepsi — the Pepsi deprivation syndrome — or was it something else?” she asked.

Kahalehau Kekona said no.

“At one point, you were even running out of gas and had to put gas in the car,” Loo said. “Maybe running out of carbonation, maybe you were going a little flat. Or maybe you’re just addicted to driving.

“You can’t rely on childish excuses anymore.”

A plea agreement between the defense and prosecution had recommended a 30-day jail term for Kahalehau Kekona, who had pleaded no contest to unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle.

Deputy Public Defender Tyler Stevenson asked for the longer jail term because Kahalehau Kekona didn’t do well while released on supervision and didn’t show up when he was scheduled to be sentenced in April.

Stevenson said Kahalehau Kekona had taken a positive step by turning himself in in July.

Judge Loo denied Kahalehau Kekona’s request for a chance to keep the conviction off his record. He was ordered to perform 200 hours of community service and to write a letter apologizing to the victim.

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