WAILUKU - A 34-year-old Molokai man cried as he pleaded with a judge to give him a more lenient sentence for his drug and assault charges, saying he didn't want to be a "deadbeat dad" just sitting in a jail cell doing nothing.
"I like continue my schooling. I like continue my work," said Lawrence Akina, while he was being sentenced Wednesday before 2nd Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo.
Akina asked for another chance, noting that he has never had a father figure and had to overcome many obstacles as a youngster moving back and forth between Molokai and Oahu and even spending more than 10 years of his young adult life incarcerated for hunting violations.
He said he wants to be a good father to his two sons, a toddler and an infant.
Akina said a long jail term would hinder the progress he has made in work by holding a job with Bug Man Termite & Pest Control and school, being one year away from getting a culinary arts degree. He said he resigned from his job, expecting some jail time, and recently moved from Maui to Molokai with his girlfriend and children.
"I like be one dad. . . . I'm too old for this, your honor," he said.
While Loo acknowledged that it seems like Akina has his life back on track now, that wasn't the case in the recent past.
"It's very easy to derail from this track as you did a year ago," Loo said.
She noted Akina was caught with 10.45 grams of crystal methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia while in his car with a son and has violated restraining orders sought against him by his girlfriend. In one instance, he broke his girlfriend's hand.
Loo said the probation department has recommended Akina be "locked up" for five years in prison, and she was tempted to do so, noting Akina shouldn't have been trafficking drugs to support his family, among other things.
She added: "I see a little bit, right now, to me, you deserve a little bit of a chance . . . (but) you should be going to prison right now."
Instead, Loo followed a plea agreement sending Akina to jail for one year and putting him on five years' probation in four different cases.
After listening to Akina's lengthly plea to Loo, Deputy Prosecutor Tracy Jones said: "The part that is missing is, 'I'm sorry.' ''
She said there were may "I" statements in Akina's plea.
"He's responsible for the consequences for all of those 'I' statements," she added.
Akina pleaded no contest to various charges in four cases, including abuse of a family or household member, two counts of violating a temporary restraining order, second-degree assault, second-degree promotion of a dangerous drug and prohibited acts relating to drug paraphernalia, according to court records. Other charges were dropped in accordance with a plea agreement.
The charges stem from cases in 2011 and 2012.
In an unrelated case Wednesday, Loo sentenced Norma Lehua Aina, 43, of Wailuku to six days in jail and five years' probation for hiding drugs and drug paraphernalia in her mouth and bra when police confronted her in a public park last year.
Loo said that while reading Aina's presentence report she "didn't know whether to laugh or cry."
She said when police confronted Aina at Waiehu Beach Park, Aina put the drugs in her bra and her mouth and then somehow the drugs fell out while she was in the back of the police car.
"Your behavior was very deceitful and dishonest," Loo said.
Jones said Aina was discovered by the Maui Police Department's Crime Reduction Unit.
Deputy Public Defender Jared Brickey asked that charges be wiped off Aina's record if she successfully completes probation, noting she has no felony convictions, attends Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings twice a day, takes care of her grandchildren and also wants to further her education to help those with drug addiction.
Loo denied the request.