Double DUI offender ordered to pay $809,000 restitution

  • LAURA RUMINSKI/West Hawaii today

    Nicholas Martin appears Friday in Kona Circuit Court for a restitution hearing.

KEALAKEKUA — A judge on Friday determined a Kailua-Kona man is responsible for more than $800,000 in medical bills after striking a runner on Alii Drive while driving drunk.

Nicholas Martin, 70, was sentenced in September to five years in prison for driving under the influence twice within 24 hours and striking a pedestrian, Robert LaMarca, in December 2017. Kona Circuit Judge Melvin Fujino found Martin guilty of DUI and first-degree negligent injury despite his no contest plea.

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Martin is currently detained at Halawa Correctional Facility on Oahu.

The Hawaii Paroling Authority set a minimum term sentence of three years. Martin will be eligible to seek parole on Sept. 7, 2022.

On Friday, a restitution hearing was convened to determine the amount of LaMarca’s medical expenses for which Martin was responsible. LaMarca took the stand and identified 27 documents that indicated bills for treatments since the 2017 crash in which he suffered a traumatic brain injury and other critical injuries that left him in a coma for a month at The Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu.

LaMarca also identified bills from Massachusetts, where he visited a neurologist and was hospitalized for surgery.

Defense attorney Brian De Lima objected to each invoice, stating the documents are hearsay and no demand for payment has been made to LaMarca.

In review of the documents, some appear to show an insurance payment, a payment in full or have a stamp stating “no patient liability.” A health claim form also was sent to Liberty Mutual, which also happens to be Martin’s insurance carrier.

De Lima said the purpose of the restitution hearing was to determine what LaMarca is responsible for and what is actually owed to him.

“If demand hasn’t been made, then demand shouldn’t be made to Mr. Martin,” De Lima said.

After arguments and testimony from LaMarca, Fujino ruled that Martin pay restitution of about $809,000 in full.

Outside the courtroom, De Lima agreed restitution was going to be high, but not what was granted by the court.

“A lot of those bills say ‘no patient liability’ and the judge still ordered full liability,” he said. “We just think the amount should’ve been more accurate.”

De Lima plans to appeal the ruling.

Sitting outside the courthouse, LaMarca said he thought the judge was fair.

“I’m just glad this stage is over and this is the last time I’m in a courthouse for a long time,” he said.

De Lima hopes to reduce Martin’s sentence to probation because of health concerns that came up since his client’s incarceration. During Martin’s sentencing in September, De Lima told the court Martin suffered from neuropathic pain, which was part of his drinking problem.

Fujino granted an order for an independent medical exam of Martin. The doctor’s findings were to be reviewed during Friday’s hearing, but a doctor was not found in time and De Lima asked to continue the hearing until the exam could be complete.

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Fujino denied the request without prejudice, which allows De Lima to make the motion for a medical exam again.

Email Tiffany DeMasters at tdemasters@westhawaiitoday.com.

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