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Probation for man who hit trailer windows with bat

WAILUKU — A man who said strangers in a semitruck “came crashing through our gate” on disputed land in Kauaula Valley was ordered to pay $1,000 in restitution for damaging the vehicle with a baseball bat.

John Aquino, 64, of Lahaina also was placed on six months’ probation Wednesday after he pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of fourth-degree criminal property damage.

He was charged after two men in a semitruck with a trailer drove onto the property at about 7 a.m. March 24, 2020, said Deputy Prosecutor Carson Tani.

He said the two men’s employer also claims ownership of the property.

There was yelling before Aquino got a bat and hit a camera out of one man’s hand, then smashed the trailer windows, Tani said.

Damage was estimated at $1,500.

As part of a plea agreement, Aquino agreed to pay $1,000 in restitution. Other charges were dismissed in exchange for his plea.

Aquino’s prior record includes convictions for third-degree assault in 1987 and 1990, Tani said.

Deputy Public Defender Tyler Stevenson said “this is an ongoing land dispute” involving Aquino and others claiming ownership of the property.

The men who were in the semitruck “do have their own history with the criminal justice system,” Stevenson said.

“Their credibility could be questioned at a trial,” he said.

Aquino said “I never met these people before, and they came crashing through our gate. They rammed our gate down, so that’s the start of all this,” he said in court Wednesday.

In following the plea agreement to sentence Aquino, 2nd Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo asked if Aquino had heard of the saying “You can attract more flies with honey than vinegar.”

He said he had.

“You can detract more trespassers with a lawsuit than a bat,” Loo told him. “You chose to do things the wrong way.”

Aquino said he understood.

“I’m glad to hear now you’re going to go the civil route,” she said.

She noted that there have been no other incidents since last year. “That’s why you’re getting the deal you’re getting,” she said.

Aquino was given credit for one day he spent in jail. He was ordered to perform 50 hours of community service and complete anger management treatment.

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

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