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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, December 22, 2006

Man pleads guilty to '04 assault

By Kevin Dayton
Advertiser Big Island Bureau

HILO, Hawai'i A Big Island man who repeatedly raped his girlfriend, held her captive for six weeks and beat her with a golf club, a pipe and other objects pleaded guilty yesterday to seven felony charges that could result in a prison term of up to 30 years.

Ernest Horcajo III, 26, also pleaded no contest to an eighth felony charge of kidnapping in the same case.

The woman Horcajo attacked, who was 19 at the time, suffered a broken jaw, broken nose, six broken ribs, a ruptured spleen and a ruptured kidney during the 2004 ordeal, according to police reports.

Horcajo was indicted on two attempted murder charges in the same case, but those counts were dropped under the terms of a plea agreement that required that he plead guilty or no contest to the other eight felonies.

The woman was held captive and repeatedly assaulted at a home in the Ainaloa Estates subdivision in Lower Puna from mid-October to Dec. 1, 2004.

Horcajo and the woman were living in a tent on the property, and she finally escaped after another woman who owned the property persuaded Horcajo to leave the 19-year-old briefly while Horcajo did some yard work in another subdivision.

The property owner then drove the 19-year-old to the Pahoa police station. Horcajo was arrested the same day.

For most of the time the woman was held captive, police were looking for Horcajo to arrest him for violating his probation in yet another assault case, his third previous conviction involving domestic violence.

In the earlier case, Horcajo had been convicted of second-degree assault for beating another woman so badly she suffered six broken ribs.

Horcajo had served 15 months in jail for that assault, but tested positive for methamphetamine less than three weeks after he was released, and never completed his required drug treatment program, according to court records.

Under the plea agreement accepted by Hilo Circuit Judge Glenn Hara yesterday in the 2004 case, Horcajo pleaded guilty to four counts of first-degree sexual assault, two counts of second-degree assault, one charge of first-degree assault, and entered the no-contest plea to the kidnapping charge.

The agreement allows Hara to sentence Horcajo to no more than 30 years in consecutive prison terms for those convictions.

The agreement also imposes a mandatory minimum prison term of six years and eight months on Horcajo, meaning he must serve at least that much prison time before he can be considered for parole.

Hara set sentencing for March 15.

Reach Kevin Dayton at kdayton@honoluluadvertiser.com.