State briefs for March 15

MMA fighter pleads no contest to assaulting fighter wife

HONOLULU — A Hawaii mixed martial arts fighter pleaded no contest Thursday to assaulting his wife, a fellow fighter who said he left her with a fractured eye socket.

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Arnold Berdon is expected to be sentenced to probation.

His wife, Rachael Ostovich Berdon, filed for a temporary restraining order in November, alleging her husband punched her in the head, face and ribs. He punched her after a night out with family and she fell to the ground, gasped for air and escaped through a balcony, according to her petition for an order of protection. She said she coughed up blood and threw up several times.

Police arrested Berdon on a charge of second-degree attempted murder. Prosecutors later charged him with second-degree assault.

Judge Trisha Morikawa told Berdon, 28, he will likely avoid jail time if he does well in a domestic violence intervention program. “I’m going to do well,” he told the judge.

The maximum sentence is five years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for May 16.

Berdon said after the hearing that he decided to plead no contest to spare his family from a legal battle. He said he and his wife are divorcing. They have a daughter.

When asked about his future as an MMA fighter he said, “I’ll do whatever God wants me to do.”

Ostovich Berdon initially canceled a fight against Paige VanZant but later decided to go through with it, saying she was healing.

“I’m satisfied that Arnold is accepting responsibility for his actions and getting the needed help so that he can be the best father to our daughter,” Ostovich Berdon said in a statement through her attorney, Lanson Kupau.

Schultz apologizes to Gabbard, Buttigieg for military remark

SEATTLE — Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who is considering an independent bid for president, is apologizing for saying he had likely spent more time with the military than the other candidates.

Schultz made the comments during an interview Thursday with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. Two Democratic candidates are veterans, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg (BOO’-tuh-juhj).

Afterward, Schultz tweeted that leaders must accept responsibility for mistakes and his comment “was wrong.”

Gabbard served in Iraq with the Hawaii Army National Guard, and Buttigieg is a veteran of the Afghanistan War, having served a tour with the Navy Reserve.

Buttigieg tweeted that he didn’t “recall seeing any Starbucks over there.”

During his time at Starbucks, the company pledged to hire more veterans and last year said it had hired 21,000 over five years.

Hawaii man gets maximum sentence for assault, kidnap attempt

HONOLULU — A Hawaii man convicted of sexually assaulting and attempting to kidnap a 9-year-old girl has received the maximum prison sentence.

Jason Nolen received 10 years for felony attempted kidnapping and five years for third-degree sexual assault.

Authorities say that in March 2018 Nolen followed the girl around an arcade in a Honolulu shopping mall before touching her inappropriately.

A prosecutor says Nolen tried to abduct the victim but “luckily he wasn’t able to because she was smart enough to fight back.”

The former homeless veteran who was 45 when he was convicted in December continues to deny the charges and asked a judge for leniency at his sentencing Wednesday.

Nolen will serve the two sentences concurrently with credit for one year served.

Murder charge against Hawaii man dismissed over delays

HONOLULU — A murder charge against a Hawaii man has been dismissed due to prosecution delays.

A second-degree murder charge against Derrick Hernandez was dropped due to persistent delays in bringing his case to trial.

A circuit court judge says that Hernandez’s time under mental health treatment and other delays counted against his speedy trial deadlines.

Hernandez has been jailed since 2014 when he was accused of the stabbing death of 42-year-old Frankie Feliciano at a beach park about 31 miles northwest of Honolulu.

Hernandez’s attorney says rules governing an “accumulate delay” required a dismissal.

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The Honolulu Prosecutor’s Office did not respond to requests for comment.

The ruling of dismissal without prejudice means prosecutors can refile the second-degree murder charge against Hernandez.

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