REPORT FROM KAUAI COUNTY – LĪHU’E –Judge Kathleen Watanabe today sentenced Justin Berry to a five-year prison term for felony theft and drug charges arising out of an August 2012 incident.
Second Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Rebecca Vogt represented the State of Hawai‘i. Scott Kessinger, Esq. represented Berry, who has been held in custody at Kaua‘i Community Correctional Center since August 16 of last year in lieu of $25,000 bail.
Berry was arrested after being found trespassing in a home in Hanalei with stolen property. Police executed a search warrant at the property and recovered marijuana, a methamphetamine pipe and a small amount of methamphetamine. Berry pled guilty on January 14 to Criminal Trespass in the First Degree, Theft in the Second Degree and Promoting a Dangerous Drug in the Third Degree.
At today’s sentencing, Vogt argued that the State had numerous concerns about Berry’s ability to be honest due to the inconsistencies in the pre-sentence report prepared by the Adult Probation Department. According to the warden, Berry was removed from the Lifetime Stand Program after being found in possession of another inmate’s pill bottle. Further, in regard to the incident for which he was arrested, Berry refused to accept responsibility, instead stating that “he was at the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Judge Watanabe, in imposing the prison sentence, expressed her concerns about Berry’s lack of a verifiable job history, the inconsistency of his statements, and his previous failures to adapt to the requirements placed on him.
Prosecuting Attorney Justin F. Kollar stated, “We are very happy with Judge Watanabe’s sentence. Although the original plea agreement left open the possibility of probation, it is clear that the defendant’s failure to take responsibility for his actions and antisocial behavior made prison an appropriate sentence. We hope this sentence sends a message that our community does not have a place for individuals who do not respect each other’s privacy and property. People have had enough of the burglaries, break-ins, and thefts, and we will continue to vigorously prosecute the offenders. As always, we thank our partners at the Kauai Police Department for their professionalism and perseverance.”