Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024|
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A 39-year-old Pahoa man who carjacked a woman’s sport utility vehicle and led police in a chase that resulted in an officer-involved shooting almost two years ago was sentenced Friday to 10 years in prison.
In a deal with prosecutors, Riley Jason Asuncion pleaded no contest to two counts of attempted first-degree assault, plus kidnapping, first-degree terroristic threatening, unauthorized entry to a motor vehicle, third-degree assault, fourth-degree theft, resisting an order to stop, reckless driving and driving without a license. In return for Asuncion’s plea, an auto theft charge and one count of attempted first-degree murder was dropped, two other counts of attempted first-degree murder were reduced to attempted first-degree assault, and the kidnapping charge was reduced from a Class A felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison to a Class B felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Asuncion will receive credit for the time he’s already served. He’s been jailed since his arrest, unable to post more than $1.5 million bail. Asuncion declined to address the court during his sentencing by Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura.
According to court documents, Tiare Kahai of Hilo, whom police described as an acquaintance of Asuncion’s, was driving south on Kilauea Avenue in Hilo in her pink 1998 Toyota 4-Runner at about 11 a.m. July 21, 2014, when Asuncion came out of hiding from the back seat, grabbed her by the hair and punched her numerous times about the head with a closed fist as she attempted to block the blows.
Documents state Asuncion was able to climb into the driver’s seat while continuing to punch Kahai and forced her into the passenger seat. Asuncion continued to drive down Kilauea Avenue and Kahai was able to escape the SUV near Kawailani Street.
Police say they spotted the SUV in Panaewa and Asuncion tried to swerve into a police vehicle during the pursuit. They then followed it up Stainback Highway and Asuncion pulled off onto a gravel road above Quarry Road. Police say two officers, identified in court documents as Jerome Duarte and Gibson Kahele, got out of their cars and tried to stop Asuncion.
Documents state “Asuncion proceeded to accelerate his vehicle towards” Duarte and Kahele and that Duarte “unholstered his firearm” and ordered Asuncion to stop, while Asuncion “continued to accelerate his vehicle forward and reverse towards officers.” Asuncion reportedly came “within an arm’s length” of Duarte, “almost striking him and causing him to fear for his life.”
Police say one of the officers fired three shots at the passenger side of the vehicle. Asuncion was hit and suffered a superficial wound toward the torso. Documents don’t state which officer fired the shots.
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