LIHUE — A Kapaa man was sentenced Wednesday in 5th Circuit Court to felony probation, two months jail and ordered to pay more than $8,000 in restitution for the 2011 killing of a dairy goat.
Russell Kekoa Hoomanawanui, 31, had a better deal in place when he pleaded guilty in two cases on March 18. He was looking at 30 days jail and probation plus restitution, but the state asked for more time after a recent arrest led to new charges in violation of the agreement.
County Second Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Rebecca Vogt said the defendant failed to comply with the terms of the plea agreement. He failed to make meetings with his probation officer, and the state requested six months jail after he was arrested on the new charges, she said.
Hoomanawanui was sentenced for the April 27, 2011, killing of a domesticated and pregnant 4-year-old milking goat named Kaitlyn that belonged to the Kunana Dairy in Kilauea.
“The fact remains that it was a senseless and unfortunate act,” said Judge Kathleen Watanabe.
The defendant’s actions at the time “make no sense,” despite coming forward and acknowledging his role, Watanabe said. She said that to truly accept responsibility would be to understand the sense of pain and loss the two co-defendant’s inflicted on the Wooten family, who owned the goat.
Watanabe said she did “not buy for one minute” that Hoomanawanui or the co-defendant Ryan Winchell thought they were hunting and did not realize they had trespassed onto the dairy farm and killed a farm animal.
Hoomanawanui received a five-year probation and 56 days in jail for felony charges of livestock theft and second-degree criminal property damage, and a one-year term of probation with 30 days concurrent jail for a misdemeanor cruelty to animals charge.
Watanabe also ordered Hoomanawanui to pay $8,347.21 in restitution for the goat, and another $500 for the unborn kids that died with its mother.
Louisa Wooten, co-owner of Kunana Dairy, addressed the court at previous hearings to explain that the restitution request was for a particular breed of goat that is worth up to $1,500 in its prime to farmers. The two unborn kids that died in Kaitlyn’s womb were the product of artificial insemination, which required hydrogen freezers.
The family-owned farm domesticates goats by hand for their milking business and each will produce up to 300 gallons of milk a year. The business earns roughly $7,000 annually per goat in revenue, Wooten said.
The co-defendant, Ryan Jacob Winchell, 29, of Las Vegas, was sentenced to 56 days time served and a five-year felony probation on April 17. The defendant fled the jurisdiction of the court prior to sentencing and had to be extradited from outside the country, and was still sentenced to the terms of his plea deal, she said.
State Deputy Public Defender Stephanie Sato said Hoomanawanui’s girlfriend encouraged him to approach the Wootens about the crime. He told a story about agreeing to take his neighbor Winchell to a hunting area if he let him fire his new gun.
Both were drinking, he said. Winchell was arrested on June 30, 2011, and Hoomanawanui was arrested on July 18, 2011.
Hoomanawanui could have motioned the court to withdraw his no contest plea and bring his case to jury trial based on the state’s action to change the terms of the deal, Sato said. Instead, she said he chose to accept responsibility for his actions and requested that he not be sentenced to more time served than the co-defendant. State Deputy Public Defender Dena Renti Cruz represented Hoomanawanui in the second case, a misdemeanor abuse of family or household member charge that was reduced to petty misdemeanor mutual affray in the deal.
She asked the court to sentence him to the minimum two day’s jail and order him to complete a domestic violence intervention course.