Courthouse arsonist sentenced

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KEALAKEKUA — One of the two people charged with intentionally setting fire to a Kona courthouse last year was recently sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.

KEALAKEKUA — One of the two people charged with intentionally setting fire to a Kona courthouse last year was recently sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.

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Randi-Keli K. Banagan, 25, on Monday pleaded no contest to first-degree criminal attempt by aiding to arson and two counts of first-degree terroristic threatening before 2nd Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo, who heard the case after Big Island judges recused themselves. Banagan originally faced charges of first-degree arson, conspiracy to commit arson, first-degree criminal property damage and two counts of first-degree terroristic threatening, and was slated to go on trial in April.

Loo sentenced Banagan to up to 20 years incarceration for the aiding to arson charge and five-year terms for the threatening offenses. The sentences will run concurrently, as well as to other sentences handed down in prior cases.

Banagan and co-defendant Kainoa Lindo allegedly set fire to the Kona Drug Court courthouse on Halekii Street about 7 a.m. March 3. The fire was put out by passers-by using fire extinguishers prior to the arrival of first responders. Two people inside the facility at the time were able to exit the building.

Banagan and Lindo also were allegedly involved in threatening three teenagers at the scenic lookout on Kamehameha III Road.

Lindo faced charges of first-degree arson, conspiracy to commit arson, first-degree criminal property damage and two counts of first-degree terroristic threatening, but pleaded guilty to second-degree arson in October as part of a plea deal meted with prosecutors.

In exchange for his change of plea, prosecutors recommended 18 months jail with four years probation and community service. He also agreed to testify against Banagan, if necessary.

He is slated to be sentenced April 24 by Loo.

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Banagan, of Captain Cook, served arout two years for assault after shooting a 26-year-old Holualoa man in the chest on Waiono Meadows Road in early 2014.

Email Chelsea Jensen at cjensen@westhawaiitoday.com.