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Man gets prison for stealing truck and crashing it

WAILUKU — A man who had been released from prison 10 months before being arrested for crashing a stolen truck into another vehicle was sentenced Thursday to a five-year term.

Patrick Hiro Jr., 35, who gave no local address, had asked to be placed on probation so he could try to be admitted into a drug treatment program.

“I one drug addict,” Hiro said, appearing by videoconference from the Maui Community Correctional Center. “I need help.”

Second Circuit Judge Kelsey Kawano said Hiro had been offered opportunities in the past but either didn’t show up to participate in the programs or didn’t complete treatment.

“Your entire record suggests to this court the prognosis for you to benefit from a sentence of probation is very poor, and your likelihood of recidivism is very great,” Kawano said in sentencing Hiro to prison.

He had pleaded no contest to unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle and second-degree criminal property damage. Other charges were dismissed in exchange for his pleas.

Police investigation showed that on Sept. 12, Hiro stole the truck keys off a table belonging to someone who had befriended him and bought him a drink at a bar. Then Hiro crashed the 2005 Toyota Tacoma into another vehicle, causing more than $1,500 in damage.

“You took his keys, walked out of the bar and rolled his truck,” Judge Kawano told Hiro. “You didn’t have any pressing need to do this. Your motivation was possibly just to get kicks. But that seems to be a recurrent theme for you.”

Kawano said Hiro had been released from incarceration 10 months before reoffending and being arrested in the case.

In arguing for a prison sentence, Deputy Prosecutor Johann Smith said Hiro had been released on supervision twice in the case, first in October before he didn’t show up for a court hearing in November. He was again released in February after changing his plea. Hiro violated conditions by using drugs and not checking in, Smith said.

“There’s no chance that he’s going to abide by probation,” Smith said. “He had a deal, and he showed this court what to expect if he’s given leeway to function out there in society. His actions are speaking louder than his words.”

“It’s time for him to go back to prison. That’s basically the only option at this point.”

Smith said Hiro has prior convictions for first-degree escape, second-degree burglary, second-degree criminal property damage, second-degree escape and unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle.

Deputy Public Defender Heather Wolfenbarger asked the court to consider Hiro’s “tumultuous childhood” that included being placed in different foster homes. She said Hiro was motivated to enter treatment now and realized he needs to go straight from jail into a long-term, off-island program, Wolfenbarger said.

“He is very much here to own the mistakes he’s made,” she said. “In Patrick lies a very good heart and a genuine soul that very much wants to change.”

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

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