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Penalty for animal cruelty is too soft, prosecutor says

By Nelson Daranciang


Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kane­shiro says the six-month jail term a state judge handed down Wednesday to the former manager of a Wai­ma­nalo dog-breeding facility for 153 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty is "a travesty of justice."

"It sent a message that animal cruelty cases are not taken seriously by the court and diminished the seriousness of the crimes," Kane­shiro said at a news conference Thursday.

Circuit Judge Glenn Kim sentenced David Lee Becker to the six-month term, rejecting the state's request that he serve five consecutive one-year jail terms and pay a $306,000 fine and $370,701 in restitution.

Kim also suggested the state should have charged Becker with one count of animal cruelty rather than 153.

Kaneshiro said his office charged one count of animal cruelty for each of the 153 dogs the Hawaiian Humane Society seized in February 2010 from Bradley Hawaiian Puppies on Mahailua Street.

"When a defendant assaults 153 people, you don't charge one count; you charge for each victim," Kane­shiro said. "Each of the 153 dogs was a victim."

He said if Kim thought any of the 153 charges was not supported by the evidence, it was his duty to reject Becker's no-contest plea.

Kaneshiro said because the dogs can't speak for themselves, Kim should have allowed the people who rescued the animals and cared for them afterward to speak at Becker's sentencing hearing.

Kaneshiro said he took exception to Kim's assertion that Becker, 55, saved the state money when he pleaded no contest to all the charges earlier this month rather than go to trial. Kane­shiro said the state Judiciary incurs court and jury expenses every day, if not for a trial for Becker's case, then for another trial.

Kaneshiro said rather than ask state lawmakers to make animal cruelty a more serious crime with harsher penalties, he said he will focus on asking them to allow for the regulation of so-called puppy mills and the periodic inspection of them.

State Judiciary spokes­woman Marsha Kita­gawa said Kim is not able to respond to Kane­shiro's comments because the Code of Judicial Conduct prohibits judges from talking about their cases outside court.

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bender wrote:
I would be intrested in seeing how Judge Kim would respond to Kaneshiro's comments. I for one can't think of any reasonable response from the judge. He blew it, probably intentionally.
on December 21,2012 | 05:10AM
loquaciousone wrote:
Circuit Judge Glenn Kim sentenced David Lee Becker to the six-month term for saving the State money. Thank you Mr. Becker for saving me money by pleading no lo contendre. Now I can go out and buy myself some shave ice from Matsutmoto's.
on December 21,2012 | 05:55AM
honolulu1330 wrote:
What politicians can we contact to promote this plan?
on December 21,2012 | 05:56AM
Publicbraddah wrote:
"State Judiciary spokes­woman Marsha Kita­gawa said Kim is not able to respond to Kane­shiro's comments because the Code of Judicial Conduct prohibits judges from talking about their cases outside court". And therein lies the problem with our Judiciary. No accountability to the public. This is an absolutely shocking verdict. Judges should have to explain their judgements to the public. This guy literally gets away scot free. Maybe Kaneshiro should go after Judge Kim.
on December 21,2012 | 07:06AM
cojef wrote:
Scott Kaneshiro certainly has no room to castigate a Judge after the repeated plea bargains he was a party to on numerous cases wherein human lives were involved. Kaneshiro has been soft on homicide cases he prosecuted. Again we have a pot calling a kettle black.
on December 21,2012 | 10:27AM
Nocturnal wrote:
I am an animal lover and was extremely hurt by the way Judge Kim allowed this monster to be set free. Personally animals are greater than humans. I believe that in cases like this the punishment should be death. I think animal cruelty is worse than rape or even humans murdering each other. Animals cannot defend themselves. I was so depressed after hearing the news of being released on time served that I had to go see my doctor to get some antidepressants because I was so sad.
on December 21,2012 | 07:58AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
After reading the report I had to go and soothe myself with bourbon. Of course, reading the weather report drives me to bourbon.
on December 21,2012 | 08:58AM
RichardCory wrote:
"Personally animals are greater than humans." LOL, okay, sure.
on December 21,2012 | 02:53PM
Macadamiamac wrote:
If the Prosecutor had better structured the case that would have indicted the human owners instead of the shell corporations, Becker wouldn't have been the only fall guy. Yes he was negligent in his duties to the animals, but it is also clear that he was overwhelmed. Kaneshiro shouldn't be bitching, just do a better job.
on December 21,2012 | 08:34AM
maliaioana wrote:
The comment that this sicko Becker did not hurt an individual, just the Humane Society. Well, what about all the individuals who contribute to the Humane Society? He ripped US off since thousands of our donations were used to save and care for his victims. Becker deserves much more time incarcerated and should repay every penny the Humane Society spent, at MINIMUM. Becker is a perve and shold not be allowed to return to society without some serious therapy.
on December 21,2012 | 09:25AM
pizza wrote:
Generally speaking, a suspect's rights and well-being are preserved and protected far more than victim's in the State of Hawaii. If one's business is stealing, burglarizing, and robbing victims, to say nothing of every form of vice or manner of assault, then Hawai is a good place to migrate. A Constitutional Right to Privacy, among other protections for offenders, permissive judicial climate with regards to sentencing and incarceration, albeit the Hawaii Paroling Authority, and a jury pool easily swayed in trial, makes the State of Hawii a veritable petri dish to culture every manner criminal.
on December 21,2012 | 09:44AM
chief wrote:
This judge is a JOKE! He should be removed.
on December 21,2012 | 10:28AM
scooters wrote:
Shame on the Judge. Poor decision on his part. Retirement? YES..
on December 21,2012 | 12:42PM
patk wrote:
Don't forget about the masterminds of all this, Vernon Luke and his daughter. They exploit animals, people and laws purely for greed. These people are trash and have yet to see their day in court. Last I heard the Luke's had set up another breeding operation somewhere.
on December 21,2012 | 12:53PM
Kapuna wrote:
Keith Refuses to prosecute friends for murder but want blood for animals. Doesn't he understand the difference between animals and humans. the huge loss by the prosecutor's office is a reflection of his offices effectiveness.
on December 21,2012 | 07:53PM
Oye_Como_Va wrote:
Must have good legal & political connections in this State.
on December 21,2012 | 10:18PM
agile wrote:
The Luke family run the Aloha Pet Shop in Pearl Kai Center and have a ton of puppies. It was reported in news a few months ago that this sick family opened up yet another puppy mill on Big Isle. They'll never stop til the public shuts them down: http://www.kpua.net/news.php?id=24457
on December 22,2012 | 12:31PM
6514623604 wrote:
Whats next raising chickens in small coops ? Oh wait, lets make it a crime to have dogs that spend their entire lives attached to a chain in the back yard with minimum contact with anyone outside of that thing that comes out and throws me left overs if I'm lucky. OH,whats a vet?. Let me be clear; there is no place for what I have seen called puppy mills but regulation with inspections is allot cheaper all around. If the state has all this money to spend on this issue then lets address the homeless and child abuse while we work on regulating puppy mills. C'mon man!
on February 4,2013 | 05:00AM
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