1 year in jail ordered for twice assaulting ex-wife

WAILUKU — A man who was convicted of twice assaulting his then-wife was sentenced Wednesday to a one-year jail term.

Daniel Hoopai, 25, of Kahului also was placed on four years’ probation for assault and felony abuse convictions, which occurred several months apart while court orders were in place prohibiting him from abusing the victim.

“I don’t know if you’ve heard the term ‘flatten the curve,’ but your behavior curve is the one that has to be flattened,” 2nd Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo said in sentencing Hoopai. “You beat your wife, and you beat your wife severely.”

In two criminal cases, Hoopai had pleaded no contest to two counts of second-degree assault and felony abuse by strangulation.

Hoopai had been convicted twice of violating a temporary restraining order the victim had obtained before the first assault on March 21, 2019, less than a week after Hoopai and his wife were married, said Deputy Prosecutor Joanne Hicks.

She said police were called to Harbor Lights Condominium shortly before 6 p.m. and found the victim crying and appearing to be in pain.

She told police she and Hoopai had been arguing in front of a friend when she tried to walk away and Hoopai reached into her purse and took her keys, Hicks said. When the woman turned to the friend and said, “See what I mean,” Hoopai became angry and punched his wife in the back of her head and on the right side of her face, Hicks said.

She said the victim was on the ground in a fetal position when the friend intervened and pushed Hoopai away.

At the hospital, the woman was treated for injuries, including a concussion, scalp bruising, fractured jaw and neck strain.

After he pleaded no contest in the case on Aug. 14, Hoopai posted bond to be released.

He was awaiting sentencing when he was arrested for again assaulting his wife Oct. 28 when they argued at Kanaha Beach Park in Kahului, Hicks said.

She said his wife told him she was leaving to go to see her mother and was walking to her car when Hoopai prevented her from opening the car door and shoved her against the car. She ran to the passenger side, and he followed, pushing the door closed, Hicks said.

She said the victim ran back to the driver’s side when Hoopai caught up with her and placed his arm and elbow around her neck, impeding her breathing for about 5 seconds. Then Hoopai shoved her forward before fleeing, Hicks said.

She said other people saw what happened.

“He was so out of control that the abuse was done in front of others,” Hicks said.

Speaking in court by telephone Wednesday, Shaunte Tabon, who has since gotten a divorce from Hoopai, said he had isolated her and turned his family against her. His mother had tried to persuade her to drop the charges against him, Tabon said.

“I have been living in survival mode day to day, questioning whether I would make it out alive or not,” she said. “Many times he has told me if I ever left him, he would kill me.”

She said she still suffers trauma from what happened and can’t work full time.

Hicks argued for a prison term for Hoopai, saying he had violated court orders and breached a plea agreement recommending probation by sending a letter to Tabon through another inmate on March 25.

“I can’t get over you or let you go,” part of the letter said.

“It indicates he hasn’t let go of this relationship, which is very troubling,” Hicks said.

Hoopai said he didn’t send the letter and doesn’t know the inmate who was involved in sending it.

“Me and Shaunte is done,” he said. “I don’t want anything to do with her. All I want is for her to be happy.”

Asked by Judge Loo if she was sure the letter was from Hoopai, Tabon said she recognized Hoopai’s writing and the way he signed the letter, “Yours truly, your handsome.”

While acknowledging that the first assault was “horrific,” Deputy Public Defender Tyler Stevenson said there were conflicting reports about what happened at Kanaha Beach Park. He said accounts from two Canadian witnesses were vague and corroborated reports by both Hoopai and Tabon.

Hoopai could succeed on probation, Stevenson said. “He’s working on himself now,” he said.

In sentencing Hoopai to probation, Judge Loo said he needed to understand that his relationship with Tabon was over.

He was ordered to have no contact with her, including through friends or family members, and to stay away from her residence and workplace.

“I’m not giving up on you, but this is the only chance I’m giving you,” Loo said.

Hoopai was ordered not to consume alcohol or illegal drugs and to complete domestic violence intervention classes. He also was ordered to pay $150 in restitution and perform 200 hours of community service.

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


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