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Man who turned life around after arrest given shorter sentence

He pleaded no contest to robbery, threatening charges

WAILUKU — Acknowledging reports that a Napili man had improved his life “tremendously,” a judge imposed an 18-month jail term instead of a longer prison sentence for a defendant who robbed one man and threatened two others in a Honokowai parking lot.

“I think you’ve seen what it means to be a real man — wake up sober, pick up your lunch pail and go to work,” 2nd Circuit Judge Richard Bissen said in sentencing Duke Waring on April 6 “But mostly earn some pride.

“There’s no pride in pulling a gun on an unarmed man. There’s no pride in picking on someone half your size. That’s just being a bully.”

Waring, 26, who had posted bail to be released while his case was pending, was ordered to turn himself in on April 9 to serve the jail term as part of four years’ probation.

“I’m really sorry. I was really messed up,” Waring said in court. “I know I’ve done a lot of bad things.”

He had pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of second-degree robbery and two counts of first-degree terroristic threatening.

He was arrested after police were called to the parking lot of Times Supermarket on Lower Honoapiilani Road in Honokowai at about 5 p.m. July 3, 2018.

Richard Judson, who was standing in the parking lot outside a bar, yelled at Waring after seeing him leave his moped in the middle of the road near the parking lot entrance, said Deputy Prosecutor Shelly Miyashiro.

She said Waring became aggressive, yelling at Judson and challenging him to a fight. He backed away and went back into the bar, Miyashiro said.

She said Judson’s friend Timothy Maher saw the exchange from his pickup truck, then saw Waring retrieve a handgun and hammer from under the seat of his moped. Fearing Waring was going to enter the bar, Maher yelled, “You don’t want to do that, I called the police.”

Waring threw the hammer at the driver’s side tire of Maher’s truck, Miyashiro said.

Then, when Maher looked out his open window, Waring struck Maher on the left side of his face with the handgun, Miyashiro said. She said Waring reached into the vehicle and grabbed Maher by his throat, impeding his breathing. She said Maher was able to push Waring away with both hands before Waring flipped the safety off the handgun and told Maher, “Give me your wallet or I’ll shoot you.”

Maher reached into his pocket and gave Waring one or two $20 bills.

Maher didn’t know that the handgun was a BB gun and “expressed he was scared and concerned at the time, as the defendant could have seriously injured him,” Miyashiro said.

Then Waring approached a third man standing in the doorway to the bar and lifted up his shirt to display the black handgun in his waistband, Miyashiro said. She said the man indicated that he was on the phone and Waring left.

Police received multiple calls about a man assaulting another man in his vehicle, Miyashiro said. She said one caller reported a man brandished a handgun. Another caller reported a handgun had been discharged.

Police officers arrived to find Waring with a handgun — which was later determined to be a BB gun — in his waistband and a $20 bill in his pants pocket, Miyashiro said. “It was still loaded,” she said.

She said the prosecution considered Waring’s age and limited record in reducing one charge from first-degree robbery, which carries a mandatory 20-year prison term.

Miyashiro recommended that Waring be sentenced to consecutive prison terms totaling 15 years.

“Defendant’s actions that evening were extremely serious and alarming and involved great violence against more than one victim,” she said. “Defendant also acted without provocation. There’s no good reason or justification for defendant’s behavior.”

Miyashiro and Deputy Public Defender Ben Lowenthal said the case had been delayed during changes in attorneys on both sides and continuing plea negotiations.

While recognizing a jail term was needed, “we just don’t believe it should be 15 years or 10 years,” Lowenthal said in arguing for probation for Waring.

There wasn’t a justification or excuse for what Waring did that day, Lowenthal said. “He was out of control. He was angry,” he said.

In the two and a half years since, he said Waring “has spent a lot of time thinking about what has happened, not only on that day, for which he expresses extreme remorse, but also about the trajectory of his life.”

Waring had dropped out of high school, and drugs and violence were part of his youth, Lowenthal said.

“By the time we get to July 3, 2018, Mr. Waring is a powder keg,” Lowenthal said.

Since then, he said Waring had been working and spending time with his parents and family. After a “slip-up” that included two positive drug tests in 2019, he sought treatment for substance abuse and mental health, Lowenthal said.

Waring said the 77 days he had spent in jail after being arrested “was like a lesson for me.”

“I got everything taken away from me — family, clothes,” he said. “I had a good life. I just took it for granted, did some bad things.”

Now, “I so close with my parents, like I was a kid again,” he said. “Since I got out, I have been working every day, building rock walls, landscaping.”

Waring said he had other employment goals, took a financial management course and started a 401(k).

“My boss trusts me. I made a good life for myself,” he said. “I never thought I would have all of these things. I did that for myself. I want to see what else I can do.”

In sentencing Waring, Judge Bissen said “the court cannot ignore the trauma and the violence that took place that day.”

Noting that Waring is 6 feet tall and weighs 280 pounds, Bissen said, “I’m not sure why you thought you needed to have a gun on you.”

“You were kind of looking for a fight. You were looking for somebody to engage you,” Bissen said. “Thankfully, all these people were just smart enough to give you the money or walk away or not engage you. You kind of didn’t have anybody to fight until the police came.”

The judge referred to letters from community members describing Waring as a good worker who was there for his family.

“I am happy to hear that you have improved your life tremendously,” Bissen said. “There is no glamorous gang life. They end up in prison or they end up in the cemetery.

“All you do is hurt the people closest to you. That’s probably the biggest lesson you learned in all of this. You not only traumatized the people you encountered but you hurt deeply your closest family members.”

Bissen noted that an assessment reported that Waring doesn’t have a drug or alcohol problem.

“So the problem was just your attitude,” Bissen said. “You were just mad at other people who don’t look like you. But now you seem to embrace all people. You’re starting to learn the lessons your parents were trying to put in you.”

Bissen said he decided to sentence Waring to probation instead of prison because of what he had done in the last two and a half years.

“I’ll ask you to continue your positive attitude both in and out of the facility,” Bissen told Waring. “You can probably teach a lot of young Polynesian males the difference between being a man and being a criminal because I think you have it in you to do that.”

Waring was ordered to complete anger management treatment.

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

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