Friday, Dec. 08, 2023|
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A 51-year-old Pahoa man who shot his landlord’s son in the chest with a speargun more than 20 months ago was sentenced Monday to five years in prison.
Hilo Circuit Judge Glenn Hara granted Georg Robert Curnutt credit for time served. Curnutt, who pleaded no contest Jan. 26 to second-degree assault, originally was charged with attempted second-degree murder for shooting 20-year-old William Sullivan during a dispute in Leilani Estates on June 25, 2013. In a deal with prosecutors, the charge was reduced in return for his plea.
Jury selection in an attempted murder trial for Curnutt, a former Google employee, already was underway when a deal was struck. Both sides agreed that Curnutt shot Sullivan with the speargun and that Sullivan, who was taken to Hilo Medical Center in critical condition, suffered substantial bodily injury. Both sides also agreed the plea deal was a difficult one for all parties.
Both sides, however, continued Monday to dispute the circumstances surrounding the event.
Curnutt’s lead defense counsel, Deputy Public Defender Michael Ebesugawa, said Curnutt’s “actions and reactions were a result of the physical result and threat by others,” referring to Sullivan and his father, Timothy.
“Defendant’s response was to protect himself and his companion from what he believed was real and serious threats to their lives,” Ebesugawa said. He said Curnutt “brandished an old speargun … to create an apprehension in his aggressors, to scare them away, to leave him and his companion, Karen Pytel, alone.”
Deputy Prosecutor Joseph Lee said Curnutt was drinking that night when he and Pytel returned to the Sullivan property, where they were living in a broken-down bus. He said “in the opinion of Timothy Sullivan, the defendant appeared to be intoxicated” and an argument ensued, which included Curnutt swinging a large stick, which William Sullivan took from him.
Lee said that, according to witnesses, after the argument was finished and the Sullivans were walking back toward their house, Curnutt got the speargun, shot it, and hit the younger Sullivan, a description of events Ebesugawa said didn’t match the physical evidence.
“William Sullivan was not shot in the back as if he was walking away from a confrontation, but the spear entered his chest as he faced Georg Curnutt,” he said.
In a preliminary hearing July 1, 2013, a police detective testified William Sullivan punched Curnutt and threw a rock at him before being shot with the spear. Neither side mentioned a punch or a spear Monday.
Curnutt addressed the judge and said he is “glad William Sullivan, Karen Pytel, as well as myself, all survived the events of that evening.” He added he was glad when he saw William Sullivan, who later was jailed on a drug charge, “that there was no hard feelings between us.”
“Karen and I have both had the highest hopes William will get on and achieve all in life he strives for. I wish him Godspeed in everything,” Curnutt said.
Curnutt had been jailed since his arrest that night but could be eligible for parole soon under terms of the deal.
The younger Sullivan since has been released from jail. Neither he nor his father were present in court.
After the hearing, Pytel was, in her words, “very highly upset” no mention of rock throwing was made by either side.
“One cinder block hit my right thigh, which I still have an indentation from,” she said. “I was hit in the head at least twice, possibly more. I tried to get in front of Mr. Curnutt and protect him as well as myself.”
Lee disputed her account, saying her only injury noted at Hilo Medical Center’s emergency room was “a bruise to her leg.”
“No report of a head injury; no report of a cinder block,” he said.
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