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Robbery of homeless man leads to 10-year prison sentence

WAILUKU — A 10-year prison term was ordered Tuesday for a man who was on probation when he robbed a homeless man in Lahaina last year.

Adrian Sugiyama, 37, who gave no local address, had pleaded no contest to second-degree robbery.

The robbery occurred shortly before 8 a.m. Aug. 5, 2020.

The victim, who is an amputee, was sleeping near Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. on Front Street when he was awakened by Sugiyama “choking him, punching him, beating him and trying to grab his belongings,” said Deputy Prosecutor Ryan Teshima.

He said the victim’s only previous encounter with Sugiyama was the night before when he asked the victim for “weed and cigarettes.” The victim didn’t have either, Teshima said.

At the time, Sugiyama was on probation for second-degree assault for using a baton to assault a man in a June 2019 case. Before hitting the man, Sugiyama had threatened other strangers with the baton near Lahainaluna Road, Teshima said.

He said Sugiyama was sentenced to a one-year jail term as part of his probation in that case.

“These series of crimes show that the public needs to be protected from this defendant,” Teshima said, in arguing for the prison sentence. “Prison is the only sentence that would protect the public from this defendant’s violent crimes.”

Defense attorney Josh James asked for probation for Sugiyama.

“Essentially, it comes down to the stealing of seashells,” James said. “A sentence of 10 years in prison for taking some seashells seems a bit excessive to us.”

If he were placed on probation, Sugiyama would have the chance to change his life, James said.

Deputy Public Defender Heather Wolfenbarger noted that Sugiyama had been incarcerated while there were two COVID-19 outbreaks at the Maui Community Correctional Center.

“I wonder if the year that he’s done now, in the time of COVID, has impacted him or anyone else in a different way” to give them more incentive to stay out of jail, Wolfenbarger said.

In sentencing Sugiyama to the 10-year prison term, 2nd Circuit Judge Kelsey Kawano said the defendant hadn’t been successful on probation in the past.

“There were periods of time when you absconded from supervision,” Kawano told Sugiyama.

In addition, he committed a violent offense, Kawano said.

Sugiyama also was resentenced to five-year prison terms for second-degree assault, two counts of unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle and third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug in four other cases. He will serve all of the prison terms at the same time.

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

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