Alleged hate crime plea bargains slap on wrists

The deeply disturbing case of State of Hawaii v. Kaulana Alo Kaonohi and Levi Aki Jr. who severely injured Chris Kunzelman in a racial attack at Mr. Kunzelman’s and his wife’s Maui residence approximately seven years ago is a bold reminder of how dangerous in can be for people of certain ethnicity to live, work and visit on Maui.

Equally disturbing is the outrageously light plea-bargained sentence deal brokered by deputy prosecuting attorney Michael Kagami and sealed by Peter T. Cahill’s gavel. In a recent Maui News article, Mayor Michael Victorino praised Kagami, saying he will “keep our community safe,” yet Kagami agreed to a sentence of one year for Kunzelman’s assailants.

In the case of Alika Brooks who, while intoxicated in Kihei in 2018, fired six rounds from his semi-automatic 9 mm handgun into vehicle traffic, hitting a car being operated by a Maui woman. Kagami agreed to a plea bargain requiring only 15 days of jail time after 14 other serious charges were dismissed. It’s not surprising that the voters on the Big Island chose not to elect Mr. Kagami their chief prosecutor.

Both Kagami and Cahill should be mindful that the citizens of Maui County count on them to administer justice and to punish those found guilty of such horrific crimes of violent bigotry and to not send a message to those with a propensity for such acts that they can expect only a slap on the wrist.

Doug Campbell



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