A 30-year-old Puna man was sentenced Wednesday to 20 years in prison for three armed carjackings that took place in March 2017.
Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura imposed the sentence on Mason David Beck. After a 2 1/2-week-long trial, it took a jury about six hours in late March to find Beck guilty of kidnapping, three counts of first-degree robbery and two counts of unauthorized control of a stolen vehicle.
Beck stole or attempted to steal the vehicles of three men who picked him up hitchhiking in Puna.
In the first incident, Beck threatened the driver with a carpenter’s nail gun. In the other two cases, the weapon was a knife.
The drivers in the first two incidents, a 37-year-old man from Germany and a 66-year-old Big Island resident, got out of their cars as ordered, and Beck drove away in their vehicles.
In the third case, the victim, a 25-year-old California man, told police he stopped the car when he reached a populated area and honked the horn, causing the would-be carjacker to get out of the vehicle and flee.
No one was physically injured in any of the carjackings.
During the sentencing hearing, Deputy Prosecutor Evans Smith argued Beck should be sentenced to 60 years in prison — 20 years for each robbery charge associated with the carjackings. Smith told the judge that Beck “took big illegal risks for his personal benefit by putting three victims in fear.”
“We want to deter this kind of conduct. We want to say it wasn’t worth it for him to do this,” Smith said. “We want to follow the law here, which allows the court to impress on the defendant the seriousness of each of his offenses, each individual victim. We do not want to reward volume criminality.”
Robert Curtis, Beck’s court-appointed attorney, argued the sentences for all offenses should run concurrently instead of consecutively.
“If somebody who is considering the possible ramifications of their actions is not deterred by a 20-year sentence, they’re not going to be deterred by a 60-year sentence,” Curtis said. “The consecutive sentences are not needed to protect the community from my client. If he gets out in 20 years, then he’s going to be a 50-year-old man. He’s not going to be in the same physical and mental condition that he was at the time of the alleged events.”
Asked by Nakamura if Beck wanted to address the court, he replied, “Uh, no, Your Honor.”
In explaining his thoughts about the sentence, Nakamura said a 60-year prison term “is excessive for the robbery offenses that do not involve a physical injury.”
“Do the three robbery in the first-degree offenses, which did not involve a physical injury … warrant the imposition of a (consecutive) prison term when a manslaughter involving the death of a human being results in the imposition of a 20-year prison term?” the judge asked, rhetorically.
After the sentencing, Hawaii County Prosecutor Mitch Roth expressed disappointment.
“We believe that this guy terrorized a whole community with his crimes, three separate Class A felonies. We believe 60 years was appropriate, and that’s why we asked for it,” Roth said.
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.