WAILUKU - With the victim's family asking for the maximum prison sentence, 2nd Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo ordered a 20-year prison term for a Kula man who kept his pregnant girlfriend from leaving a car as he drove to remote locations for six hours, sexually assaulting her and beating her so badly that her mother didn't recognize her.
"You held (the victim) captive in your private torture chamber," Loo told Isaiah Shim, 29, as he was sentenced Friday. "You mentally and physically tortured her.
"You treated someone you supposedly love like this. It scares me to think about how you would treat someone you hate."
Isaiah Shim makes a court appearance in April 2012. On Friday, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison for sexually assaulting, beating and torturing his pregnant girlfriend.
Maui News file photo
Shim had pleaded no contest to two reduced charges of second-degree sexual assault, a reduced kidnapping charge, as well as first-degree terroristic threatening, attempted first-degree assault, second-degree assault and third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug.
As part of a plea agreement, the prosecution dismissed 16 other charges and agreed not to seek more than a 20-year prison sentence for Shim.
Defense attorney James Brumbaugh argued that a 10-year prison term for Shim would be "more than sufficient retribution," saying that the victim spent several hours in the hospital but wasn't seriously injured in the April 1, 2012, incident.
It began at about 1 p.m. when Shim confronted his girlfriend after having earlier heard from friends that she was fooling around, Brumbaugh said. He said Shim badgered and threatened to kill the woman until she lied by saying she had been raped.
Shim had smoked oxycodone "and became psychotically jealous," Brumbaugh said.
"It turned into a beating of the victim," he said.
He described how Shim hit the 25-year-old woman with a pipe, burned her with a cigarette, squeezed her toes with pliers and used a beer bottle to sexually assault her.
"There were no life-threatening injuries, no serious physical injuries," Brumbaugh said. "There certainly were some psychological injuries. This was a one-time incident. Nothing in his past indicates he has a character for violence."
In court Friday, Shim tearfully said he was sorry.
"I betrayed all the trust you had for me," he said, turning toward the victim and her family in the courtroom gallery. "I betrayed all your family's trust. I should have listened to you. You told me to stop so many times. I love you, and I love my daughter."
Deputy Prosecutor Kristin Coccaro said that the defense account minimized the physical, sexual and psychological torture that Shim inflicted on the woman.
He first drove to Kula, putting the woman in a headlock and squeezing until she couldn't breathe and lost consciousness, Coccaro said. In the Skid Row area, he dragged the woman out of the car, putting a knife against her throat and slicing it across before she realized the dull edge was against her, Coccaro said. "Let's call this exactly what it is - it's a mock execution," Coccaro said. "It's a very real torture technique used by terrorists. She thought and believed she was going to die."
The torture continued, Coccaro said, as Shim drove to a cliff, cut off the woman's clothing and told her he would throw her off the cliff before grabbing her back. Shim drove to his grandparents' house in Kula to get money before going to Paia, where he arranged to smoke oxycodone with someone.
At 5 p.m., the car was seen at the Shell station in Paia before Shim drove to a cane field off Kuihelani Highway, where he said he would use the pliers to cut off her toes, Coccaro said. She said that Shim also used beer bottles, metal and PVC pipes and a knife to assault and sexually assault the woman.
She was again strangled to the point where she was gasping, Coccaro said. She said Shim also wrapped a rope twice around the woman's neck, but she managed to get her hand under the rope. She tried to protect her unborn child as Shim punched her and said he would kill her and the child, Coccaro said.
She said it was about 7 p.m. when Shim drove to a friend's house in Napili and the woman managed to escape by climbing out the driver's window and running to a stranger's vehicle to beg for help.
The woman had endured "six hours trapped in a car with pure evil, believing with every fiber of your being that you and your unborn child are going to die," Coccaro said.
"Drugs did not make him do this," Coccaro said. "This kind of violence comes from within."
Family members, including the victim's parents, said they earlier had seen black eyes and other signs that Shim had abused the woman, although she would say she ran into a bureau or fell.
When her parents went to the hospital after getting a call saying she was about to be released last year, her mother said she didn't recognize the woman. "She was so beaten up," the mother said. "I was so devastated cause I did not give birth to a daughter to be beaten up the way she was."
Family members said they didn't want Shim to be involved with the child he had threatened to kill months before she was born.
The victim said that she has nightmares and trouble sleeping. "I'm scared for my life. I'm scared for my baby," she said.
Apologizing for not being able to continue, she said she was having a flashback as she spoke in court.
Noting that the crimes were committed on April Fool's Day, Loo said: "If this was a joke, what a sick and cruel joke you were playing on someone you supposedly loved."
"Even starving animals don't treat their prey as horribly as you did," she said.
She said she was thankful that the baby was born unharmed and had a stable family to help raise her.
Although the most serious charges carry maximum 10-year prison terms, Loo ordered that Shim serve some prison sentences consecutively for a total of 20 years.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at email@example.com.