Former councilman avoids jail time

Former County Council member Kelly Greenwell won’t serve jail time after all.


Former County Council member Kelly Greenwell won’t serve jail time after all.

Greenwell, 74, was sentenced to five days in jail in 2010 on a charge of resisting arrest during a traffic stop in Kailua-Kona. Greenwell appeared before 3rd Circuit Court Judge Ronald Ibarra on Tuesday afternoon, on a motion by the county’s Prosecuting Attorney’s Office to see Greenwell’s sentenced imposed.

The Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals in December dismissed Greenwell’s appeal of Ibarra’s initial sentence, handed down in November 2010. Appellate justices said they did not have jurisdiction to hear Greenwell’s case.

The former North Kona councilman accepted a plea agreement in 2010 that called for him to enter a no contest plea to the charge. In return, the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office asked for a sentence with no jail time. Ibarra, noting prosecutors generally asked for 30 days incarceration for other people facing the same charge, imposed the five-day sentence.

Greenwell’s attorney, Eric Seitz, said Tuesday he disagreed with prosecutors that the sentence, which also included probation and community service, was stayed during the appellate process.

“Mr. Greenwell did his community service,” Seitz said in court. “He’s had no contact with police these four years. … You have evidence that he has not put himself in that position again.”

Seitz asked Ibarra to convert the five days in jail to five days of home supervision.

“At age 74, being incarcerated five days could have unforeseen consequences, even for someone in good health,” Seitz said.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Burleson made no argument against the request.

Ibarra, before agreeing, noted for the court record why he imposed the incarceration, and questioned whether, procedurally, he could change the sentence.

“Jail differs from house arrest,” he said.

Seitz said the judge was only reducing the sentencing, not imposing a new one.

Greenwell’s appeal claimed Ibarra abused his discretion in ordering jail time because it was not included in the plea agreement meted out between Greenwell and prosecutors. The maximum sentence for resisting arrest, a misdemeanor, is one year in jail.

Greenwell was arrested July 17, 2010, after police using a handheld laser clocked him driving 51 mph in a 35 mph zone on Queen Kaahumanu Highway near the Kealakehe Police Station. Police said Greenwell first refused to stop, then after stopping, became confrontational. He was then arrested and charged with resisting an order to stop, resisting arrest and refusing to produce documentation. He was also cited for speeding, a decriminalized offense.

At his sentencing hearing, Greenwell, who was serving on the council when he was arrested, claimed he set up the incident to test the police.


During the same hearing, Greenwell disputed reports he took a swing at police officers. He admitted he exited his car when he should not have.

Email Erin Miller at