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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 1:11 p.m., Tuesday, December 18, 2001

Golfer in UH softball stadium case spared jail

By James Gonser
Advertiser Staff Writer

Former University of Hawai'i student Daniel Copperud will not go to jail for hitting a golf ball that struck a high school softball player in the mouth in February, but was sentenced today to five years probation for the felony assault. He could have faced up to five years in prison after he was found guilty of the second-degree assault in August.

In his ruling today, Circuit Judge Karl Sakamoto said Copperud, 20, should not go to prison because of his good record prior to the incident and because investigators determined the assault was not intentional.

Copperud's father, David, made an emotional plea to spare his adopted son prison time.

City Deputy Prosecutor Wayne Tashima said he was disappointed that no jail time was imposed, but felt the judge's ruling was fair.

Copperud's attorney Victor Bakke said a civil lawsuit settled yesterday (12/16) awarded $85,000 in damages to Taniguchi.

Copperud never denied hitting two golf balls from the rear of the Johnston Hall dormitory on Dole Street Feb. 2. The dormitory overlooks the Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium, where Iolani School was playing in the state softball tournament that day. Copperud told police that his intent was to reach the stadium, which is about 250 yards away.

One of the balls struck Iolani softball player Amy Taniguchi in the mouth while she was standing in the dugout waiting to bat.

The blow knocked out one of Taniguchi's teeth, loosened others, bloodied her mouth, and forced her dentist to place braces on her upper teeth. A temporary tooth also was inserted to replace the missing tooth.

Since the trial, four more teeth have had to be removed.