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Maui man sentenced for hitting shoplifting suspect

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WAILUKU » A Maui man who used his fist to stop a suspected shoplifter was ordered Wednesday to complete 200 hours of community service but will be spared a felony conviction and a jail sentence.

Paul-Keola Solomon Maielua, 27, was allowed to plead no contest to misdemeanor assault, the Maui News reported. The plea was supported by the shoplifting suspect who suffered facial fractures.

The assault victim wanted Maielua to take responsibility but didn’t want him to have a felony conviction, Deputy Prosecutor Jeffery Temas said.

"I asked why," Temas said. "He said it’s difficult to find work. Here’s the victim in this case worried about the defendant."

The incident occurred Dec. 4, 2013. According to prosecutors, Maielua saw a man steal liquor from a Honokowai supermarket and get into a fight with the store manager, who tackled the suspect.

A short time later, Maielua saw the man at a nearby store hiding a liquor bottle in his clothing.

"The defendant made the decision to stop the crime by striking the victim with a single punch, which did cause extensive facial fracturing," Temas said.

Maielua turned himself in to police and was charged with felony assault.

Deputy Public Defender Jared Brickey said the shoplifting suspect was so intoxicated, it would not have taken much force to cause him to fall and suffer injuries. Maielua, Brickey said, was a "good Samaritan" who overreacted.

Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo said photos of the injury to the shoplifting suspect were graphic.

"Whether you meant to hurt him or you meant to neutralize him, it just went too far," Loo said. "He did fall down, and there’s a lot of blood there."

Stopping the shoplifter was not Maielua’s fight, she said. He could have taken a cellphone photo and turned it over to police, she said.

A tearful Maielua said at sentencing last week that he had learned from the arrest.

"I was just taking action, what I thought was right to help what I saw going on," he said. "Looking back at what I did and knowing the consequences and knowing my actions were the wrong choice, I would go back to not do it."

He will keep the misdemeanor conviction off his permanent record if he follows court orders to not consume alcohol or illegal drugs, and to complete anger management treatment if required by his probation officer.

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