‘Castle John’ gets 10 years for burglary

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A 60-year-old Kalapana Seaview Estates man has been forced to abdicate his castle-like home in the remote lower Puna subdivision to take up residence in a cellblock.


A 60-year-old Kalapana Seaview Estates man has been forced to abdicate his castle-like home in the remote lower Puna subdivision to take up residence in a cellblock.

Hilo Circuit Judge Glenn Hara on Thursday sentenced John “Castle John” Williams to 10 years in prison for first-degree burglary, third-degree assault and two counts of second-degree terroristic threatening. The home where the offenses occurred, also built and once owned by Williams, is called the “gingerbread house” because it resembles the dwelling in the fairy tale “Hansel and Gretel.” Williams and three other men entered the home Jan. 10, 2015, and threatened the occupants, Joshua Jendro and Anna Johnson, ordering them to leave. In cellphone video clips, Williams was heard telling Johnson and Jendro “the Hawaiian Kingdom is on the way” and he would “be back in a half-hour with people who will f——— kill you!”

As happened during trial, Williams interrupted proceedings on several occasions.

Deputy Prosecutor Lucas Burns asked the judge to sentence Williams to prison, saying he illegally entered the home and “brazenly attacked Joshua Jendro.”

“Bulls—-!” Williams exclaimed.

“And after attacking Joshua Jendro, he then threatened to kill Joshua Jendro and Anna Johnson. … Defendant has shown that throughout this case that he harbors only contempt for this court, the laws of the state of Hawaii and the state’s judicial system,” Burns said.

“That’s true,” Williams interjected.

“Defendant does not think that the laws of this state apply to him, and he has made that clear throughout the pendency of this case.”

“That’s true, as well,” Williams said.

“Defendant thinks these proceedings against him are a joke and that he is the victim.”

“It’s not funny at all!” Williams bellowed.

At that point, Hara interceded, saying, “Mr. Williams, you will be given a chance to make a statement.”

“I will remain silent until then,” Williams replied, and kept his word.

Noting Williams referred to Hara as a “war criminal” and a “coward” during the trial and called jurors “cowards” and “soulless,” Burns said Williams presents “a threat to this community.”

“The defendant’s belligerence directed at the court throughout these proceedings, defendant’s insistence that the laws do not apply to him and defendant’s failure to take any responsibility for his conduct show that a probation sentence is not appropriate,” Burns said. “The defendant’s violence has had strong and lasting effects on Joshua Jendro and Anna Johnson.”

Jennifer Wharton, Williams’ court-appointed attorney, argued for probation, saying Williams has no prior felony convictions.

“Some of the things the state would like to see Mr. Williams do is impossible because of his mental illness. … He’s a narcissist,” she said. “Narcissists are known for not having remorse. Narcissists have electrical currents that aren’t working right. … They are not able to take responsibility. They are not able to have a conscience. … As far as him taking responsibility and showing remorse, he is not capable of doing it because of his mental illness, Your Honor.”

Wharton said she thinks Williams’ bipolar tendencies, bursts of anger and mood swings could be controlled by medication and supervision.

Williams, clad in bright red shirt, trousers and sash, a cap with small silver reflective polka dots and accompanied by his dachshund, Bruiser, told the judge he’s “simply hoping that you see who I really am, regardless of the illusion that the prosecutor here presented for you.”

“It’s obvious the reason that I’m being prosecuted is because I do not respect the institution that you represent. That doesn’t mean I don’t respect you,” Williams said, and added the system is “comprised of thieves and confidence men, and through this system, you’re raping Hawaii.”

“Now, as a agent of this system that you’re now part of … you have an obligation to make an example of me. Because the prosecutor’s right; I don’t respect the laws here. I’m a citizen of the Hawaiian Kingdom,” he said. “… The organization that you represent came in in the 1800s and stole this land away from the Hawaiian people. And my allegiance is to the sovereign. Right now, it’s Queen Lili‘uokalani.”

Jendro and Williams were injured in the confrontation, an affray the jury ruled was initiated by Williams.

“Unfortunately, no good deed goes unpunished,” Williams said, and turned to the victims, who were in the courtroom gallery. “I tried to help these people by allowing them to live with me. Nobody seemed to get the most important thing that happened during this trial. I was asked, ‘How did you feel, Mr. Williams, after you were beat up by these two people?’ And I said I was sad. ‘Sad, Mr. Williams? You’re supposed to be angry.’ No, I was sad because even though these people were beating me up, I still care about them. … They lived with me as family members when they had no place else to go.”

Before sentencing Williams, Hara said he agreed “to some extent” with Wharton’s analysis, but added society needs to “be protected from the potential harm” Williams represents.


“The prospect of a prison sentence in your case does not really sit well with me,” the judge said. “On the other hand, when I look at what your conduct has been — and it has resulted in harm to others — if you wish to speak out and you wish to take the kinds of positions you’ve taken without causing harm to others, maybe we could live with that. But when those thoughts result in other people being harmed and their physical security being threatened, that’s where I think the line is drawn.”

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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