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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Saturday, October 26, 2002

18-year minimum urged for Arakawa

By David Waite
Advertiser Courts Writer

City Prosecutor Peter Carlisle told the Hawai'i Paroling Authority yesterday that former police officer Clyde Arakawa should serve at least 18 years of his 20-year manslaughter sentence for the 2000 traffic death of Dana Ambrose, a 19-year-old University of Hawai'i student.

Carlisle told parole board members that the minimum prison term Arakawa serves before becoming eligible for parole should be even greater than the 15-year minimum term given to James Steinseifer, who killed three people in a drunken driving case in Kapolei in January 1997.

The paroling authority took the matter under advisement and is expected to issue a decision shortly.

Speaking directly to Ambrose's parents during yesterday's hearing via a video connection from prison, Arakawa first admitted that he is an alcoholic and said his alcoholism "killed an innocent young lady."

Arakawa also took responsibility for not stopping his former lawyer, Michael Ostendorp, from what he said were efforts to sully Ambrose's image.

Ostendorp contended at trial that Ambrose was speeding on School Street, ran a red light, was not wearing a seat belt and may have been high on Ecstasy or other illicit drugs when her car collided with Arakawa's at the School Street intersection on Oct. 7, 2000.

The city medical examiner had checked for illicit drugs in Ambrose's system and found none.

Carlisle, who prosecuted the case against Arakawa, contended at trial that Arakawa consumed 11 beers in six hours, was speeding on Pali Highway toward Kailua, ran a red light at School Street and plowed into Ambrose's car.

In an unusual move at the hearing yesterday, Myles Breiner, Arakawa's new lawyer, did not ask the paroling authority for a specific minimum term.

Instead, he also apologized for the way the case was handled and told Ambrose's parents, Rod and Susan Ambrose, that no parent should have to bury a child.

Breiner said after the hearing that he thought it would be "inappropriate under the circumstances" to ask the parole board to set a low minimum term for Arakawa.

Reach David Waite at 525-8030 or dwaite@honoluluadvertiser.com.