KEALAKEKUA — A Kailua-Kona man who pleaded no contest to charges connected to assaulting and robbing a Buddhist minister was sentenced to serve up to 10 years in prison.
Kyle Arellano appeared Wednesday before Kona Circuit Court Judge Melvin Fujino. In February, the 22-year-old pleaded no contest to first-degree criminal property damage, second-degree robbery and unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle.
The charges stem from an incident Dec. 26 when Arellano assaulted and robbed a reverend outside the Kona Koyasan Daishiji Mission in Holualoa. The following day, Arellano broke into a car at the Veterans Affairs Kona Community Based Outpatient Clinic on Hualalai Road and stole a veteran’s medication. He later reportedly stole a 2007 Honda Accord from the Honokohau Harbor.
At the time of the December incidents, Arellano was out on bail after pleading not guilty to a Class B felony of first-degree criminal property damage stemming from a November 2018 incident. Wednesday’s sentencing addressed both cases.
Arellano read two letters in open court. The first was to the reverend.
“I’m very sorry for what I’ve done to you,” Arellano said. “I pray that you can find it in your heart to forgive me.”
He said he knew it was wrong to put his hands on anyone.
“I’ve learned my lesson,” Arellano added. “I really am not a bad person.”
Arellano also read aloud a letter he wrote to the judge. He said he felt ready to go home and start drug treatment.
“I got my freedom taken away from me because of my drug use,” he said. “I want my freedom so bad I’m willing to do anything so I can keep it.”
Arellano said he has a lot of good in him.
“Please give me a chance,” he said. “I’m a good kid. I don’t want to be coming in and out of jail.”
One of the victims spoke prior to Fujino passing sentence.
“I really want this person to understand what his actions did to my family,” she said.
The woman explained the medication stolen from the truck in the VA parking lot was to treat her husband’s PTSD and traumatic brain injury. Since the theft, she said they lock their doors.
“He stole that ease that we grew up with,” she said. “Those actions aren’t tolerable. He needs to understand what he took from us.”
Fujino’s final decision was to commit Arellano to the Department of Public Safety for an indeterminate period of up to 10 years. The Hawaii Paroling Authority will ultimately decide how much time he will serve.
Outside the courtroom Wednesday, the reverend said he’s not yet ready to forgive Arellano. After the assault and robbery, he explained he still cannot sleep as every sound startles him.
As he thought about Arellano’s letter to him, he said it “sounded like what everyone would say.”
“Hard to believe at which point there was honesty,” said the victim, who asked not to be identified.