WAILUKU - A Lahaina man who said he was catching a ride home when others stopped to get money from a homeless man was released March 19 after spending nearly five months in jail.
"I just ended up making a bad decision," Keola Chung-Dyson said in court. "I should have done more for help out the victim instead of being part of this. It could have went a million different ways that night, and it was just lack of judgment."
Chung-Dyson, 36, was placed on five years' probation as part of his sentence, with 2nd Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza following a plea agreement between the defense and prosecution.
Chung-Dyson had pleaded no contest to second-degree robbery.
The robbery occurred the evening of Oct. 5 when the victim reported being attacked and having his bag stolen near Mala Wharf, police said.
Defense attorney Benjamin Acob said Chung-Dyson had caught a ride with two co-defendants to get a printer from a pawn shop and was hoping to return home when the others saw the victim, who owed them $30 or $40.
Chung-Dyson wasn't involved in the debt, Acob said, but got out of the car when a co-defendant asked Chung-Dyson to verify that the victim had talked about not owing any money two days earlier.
"Keola did have a Taser with him, and he showed that Taser to the victim only because he wanted to make sure he wasn't going to get attacked," Acob said.
While the victim was willing to pay $30, a co-defendant wanted more, Acob said. He said Chung-Dyson was picking up the $30 that the victim had thrown on the ground when the victim got into a struggle with a co-defendant. Chung-Dyson tried to deploy the Taser but ended up using it on himself, Acob said.
Chung-Dyson agreed to the plea deal because the prosecution was recommending probation and he felt he could benefit from supervision, he said.
Deputy Prosecutor Carson Tani opposed Chung-Dyson's request for a chance to keep the conviction off his record. His criminal history includes 46 arrests and 17 convictions, including some for crimes of violence, Tani said.
Cardoza denied Chung-Dyson's request.
The judge encouraged Chung-Dyson to use his talents shown in his college degrees in accounting, computer engineering and economics.
"You have been blessed with some pretty amazing ability," Cardoza told the defendant. "It's a shame you're not moving that in the right direction."
Chung-Dyson was ordered not to consume alcohol or illegal drugs and to complete anger management classes.
Cases are pending for Lahaina residents Jayson Auld, 22, and Amber Gonnelly, 19, who also have been charged with second-degree robbery in the case.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.