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Puna man gets life term in stabbing deaths

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A Puna man who stabbed his pregnant wife and their 14-year-old son who tried to intervene — killing the teen and the unborn child — has been sentenced to life in prison.

Circuit Judge Glenn Hara sentenced Tyrone Vesperas, 40, on Thursday to life with the possibility of parole. Vesperas will also serve a 10-year assault sentence at the same time.

His estranged wife, Cheryl-Lyn Vesperas-Saniatan, was nine months pregnant with another man’s child when he stabbed her on June 11, 2007, at his Ainaloa subdivision home.

Doctors performed an emergency Caesarian section, but the baby was stillborn with cuts on his leg and foot, Deputy Prosecutor Darien Nagata told the court.

Vesperas also fatally stabbed his son, Tyran Vesperas-Saniatan, when the teenager tried to protect his mother.

In court on the Big Island Thursday, Vesperas declined to say anything, but the couple’s 19-year-old daughter, Tysha Vesperas-Saniatan, spoke in support of her father, Nagata said.

Vesperas-Saniatan told the judge that her father was her best friend and that he and her brother had also been close. She said no one wanted to see her father in shackles and in prison, Nagata related.

Vesperas was originally charged with two counts of first-degree attempted murder, second-degree murder, second-degree murder by omission (for not seeking medical attention for his son), attempted second-degree murder and weapons charges.

Vesperas could not be prosecuted for the death of the unborn child since Hawaii law applies to persons who are born alive, Hawaii County Prosecutor Jay Kimura said.

On May 24, Vesperas pleaded no contest to second-degree attempted murder of his wife and to a reduced charge of first-degree assault of Tyran Vesperas-Saniatan.

Vesperas was a Hawaii National Guardsman who served in Iraq from February 2005 to January 2006.

At sentencing the judge said that nothing, including a psychiatric exam, indicated Vesperas suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, and that he instead acted out of jealousy, hurt and rage, Nagata said.

Kimura said prosecutors had many conversations with Vesperas-Saniatan regarding the plea agreement.

"This provided some certainty and closure to the family," he said.

"It’s been difficult for Cheryl-Lyn because of the whole situation," Kimura said. "Obviously, she didn’t deserve what happened; neither did the son."


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