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Hawaii News

Victim helps cut robber’s prison term

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WAILUKU >> A man charged with robbing a Canadian tourist at gunpoint on Maui last year had a few years shaved off his prison term thanks to his victim, who asked the court for leniency.

Joseph Planesi-Kauhola was given a 20-year prison sentence Thursday and must serve at least 10 years before he’s eligible for parole. As part of a plea agreement, the prosecution and defense recommended the 10-year minimum term instead of the more than 13 years Planesi-Kauhola faced, the Maui News reported.

The 33-year-old man had pleaded no contest to robbery for taking a wallet, cellphone and van from Quebec resident Pierre Pilon, who had agreed to give him a ride.

Deputy Prosecutor Emlyn Higa said Pilon was “very terrified” during the Aug. 2 incident on Maui but that he “actually wept and wept for the defendant” when he heard Planesi-Kauhola could get up to 20 years behind bars.

“Even though he had suffered so much, he didn’t want to see the defendant suffer,” Higa said. “He asked me if I could find another way, something other than prison.”

Circuit Judge Peter Cahill read a letter from Pilon in court Thursday seeking leniency for Planesi-Kauhola so he could “have good years with his family.”

Cahill said he approved the plea deal for Planesi- Kauhola in part because of Pilon’s letter.

“If you do get released after 10 years, it’s because he is an extraordinarily kind human being and very forgiving,” the judge told Planesi-Kauhola. “I would like to think I have it in me to do what he’s doing for you.”

Planesi-Kauhola was also ordered to pay more than $4,000 in restitution for damage to the van, which was found in a Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. cane field.

“I let the drugs get the best of me,” Planesi-Kauhola said in court. “I’m just sorry for what I did.”

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