WAILUKU - In what a judge called "one of the worst cases of psychological harm," a Paia man was sentenced Wednesday to a 20-year prison term for assaulting, imprisoning, intimidating and terrorizing his former girlfriend in two incidents last year.
Second Circuit Judge Richard Bissen said he was imposing the consecutive sentencing for Gregory Garcia, 30, after previous attempts to help him had failed.
"I can honestly say that I have tried everything that was within my power, except for prison, to try to help you change, to try to help you see that you might have other ways of handling your anger," Bissen told Garcia. "And I can now see that nothing has worked - none of the classes, none of the jail, none of the lectures."
Garcia had pleaded no contest to felony abuse and second-degree terroristic threatening for a May 2, 2012, incident.
He and the woman were in his car and arguing about why she didn't want to have his baby when Garcia became angry and began yelling at her, said Deputy Prosecutor Kristin Coccaro. She said he slapped the woman on the back of her head several times, then grabbed her hair and yanked her head back before putting his hands around her throat and squeezing her to the point where she couldn't breathe.
About two months later, on July 1, 2012, after the woman had tried to cut off contact with Garcia and wouldn't respond to his hundreds of phone calls, he showed up at her workplace in Kihei when she was alone and began pleading with her to take him back and change her testimony in his pending case, Coccaro said.
"When she will not agree, he violently attacks her, punches her in the face, bites her on the face, bites her on the forearm and chokes her to the point where she almost loses consciousness," Coccaro said.
The woman managed to run to a nearby business to get help.
Garcia took the woman's cellphone, using it to send a video showing him and the woman in sexual acts to others, including the woman's teenage daughter and co-workers, according to Coccaro's sentencing memorandum filed to seek consecutive sentencing for Garcia.
Coccaro said Garcia cut himself with a letter opener, then went to the hospital alleging the woman had cut him.
"It shows the manipulation and the cunning of this defendant," Coccaro said. "He's always planning. He's always manipulating, and he's always going to be dangerous."
Garcia had pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of first-degree unlawful imprisonment, as well as felony abuse, intimidating a witness, second-degree assault and violating an order for protection in the July case. In exchange, the prosecution dismissed charges of first-degree sexual assault, promoting pornography to a minor, violating an order for protection and third-degree theft.
Coccaro said Garcia was a "master manipulator" with a history as a "serial abuser" of other women.
"He's cunning. He's egotistical," she said. "He's definitely dangerous.
"He stands before you very unassuming. He's overly polite, and he's compliant, but that's his manipulation."
Speaking in court Wednesday, the victim asked the judge to send Garcia to prison to "help me and my family heal."
"I also feel it will help him heal and be a better person," she said. "By him being in jail, it will keep other women safe.
"He's a charming guy and was able to steal not only my heart but my trust," she said. "Life will never be the same."
Garcia, who has already been incarcerated for one year, asked to be sentenced to probation.
"Greg Garcia is a changed person," said his attorney, Gerald Johnson.
He said that while Garcia was jailed, his father died. "This was an event that, I think, finally turned the tide," Johnson said. "There was really no excuse for the things he did. He's admitting to it."
"I acted on my emotions. I got angry," Garcia said.
In a letter to the victim that he read in court, Garcia said: "I realize I'm here because I could not control my anger. I can only hope that one day you will forgive me."
He also apologized to family members and friends who were in the courtroom gallery. "I didn't mean to hurt nobody," he said. "When I act on my emotions, I run with it. I need help."
Bissen said he had previously sentenced Garcia to shorter jail terms ranging from five to 120 days in domestic violence cases to try to get him to see he needed to change.
The judge said his thinking was "he's a bright man, he's the son of a defense attorney, he comes from a good family. It's got to work."
"You have proven me wrong more times than any other defendant that has come before me," Bissen told Garcia.
"What I'm sorry to say, Mr. Garcia, is that I have given up on you today. I can't think in the last eight and a half years I have sat on this bench I have said that to any person."
Bissen said Garcia's case was "very disturbing."
"While this is not the worst case of physical harm that I have seen, this is probably one of the worst cases of psychological harm that I have seen," Bissen said.
By sending the sex video to the victim's daughter, employer, ex-husband and mother-in-law, "you attempted to break up this family," the judge told Garcia.
"I cannot imagine how mean-spirited someone has to be to do that," Bissen said. "I cannot imagine what it takes for another human being to do that to someone, to want to win so badly that you would send this to people with the hope that they would view it so they would have an opinion of her."
Bissen said it was "probably the ultimate in manipulation."
"I guess you were trying to break her spirit," Bissen said. "That speaks louder to your resentment and the degree you would go to to show how upset you were. It wasn't enough to beat her. You went after her very core. I think she's bounced back. I think it didn't work."
While the prosecution had sought consecutive prison terms totaling 10 years, the judge ordered consecutive sentencing for four of the felony charges for a total of 20 years.
Garcia also was ordered to pay $541 in restitution.