Bully gets 5 years in prison
By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Windward O'ahu Writer
By Eloise Aguiar
An 'Ahuimanu resident who admitted terrorizing neighbors but displayed little remorse was yesterday sentenced by Circuit Court Judge Steven Alm to five years in prison.
In handing down the decision, Alm said David R. Domingues, 39, also has failed to make strides toward changing his threatening behavior.
In February, when Domingues pleaded guilty to two counts of felony terroristic threatening, rather than sending him to O'ahu Community Correctional Center to await sentencing, Alm set aside Domingues' $2 million bail and placed him on supervised release, which included placement in the Sand Island Treatment Center. Domingues fell back into his old habits there, however, by threatening other residents in the center's program.
Dressed in a sweatshirt and trousers, Domingues yesterday uttered a short apology in court, but did not turn to address his neighbors until Alm prompted him to do so.
"I would like to apologize," Domingues said. "I accept responsibility for my action." When Alm asked if that was all, and Domingues added, "I'd like to apologize to the Sand Island program, to the court, to the neighbors, to my attorney, my family. I accept full responsibility for my actions."
Noting that a written apology to the court had left out any mention of the neighbors, the judge said the defendant's court manner led him to scrap consideration of a lesser sentence and allowing Domingues to return to the treatment center. Each of the two felony counts carry a five-year maximum prison sentence.
"I think justice has to be tempered by mercy, but mercy has to be tempered by justice," Alm said, adding that maybe after he sits in prison for a while, the Hawai'i Paroling Authority may let Domingues return to Sand Island. "That's what I'm hoping for, but I think your former neighbors deserve a chance to sleep in peace."
Neighbors had said that for more than a decade, Domingues had threatened to kill them and their children and frequently taunted people and challenged them to fights. Neighbors last year decided to fight back, with six families filing for restraining orders against Domingues. He was indicted by the O'ahu grand jury in November for terrorizing two neighbors, threatening them and verbally abusing them with racial slurs.
Domingues has been in custody since his arrest Nov. 17.
In asking for the maximum sentence of 10 years, city deputy prosecutor Clinton Piper said the defendant's behavior prompted neighbors to walk in pairs for mutual protection and avoid eye contact with him.
One set of parents, he said, "would hold their 9-year-old daughter at night in her bed and do their best to reassure her that everything would be all right — that 'the man won't hurt you today' — even as the words seemed hollow in their own ears."
As neighbors joined forces and became stronger, Domingues recognized what they were doing and cursed their actions with foul language and more threats, Piper said.
"What's the purpose of all these threats?" he asked, ruling out an isolated misunderstanding, drug dealing or drug use. "It was all about power, to create power and maintain power through fear and an atmosphere of terror."
Randy Oyama, Domingues' attorney, had sought probation, maintaining that the 310 days his client had served in jail was sufficient punishment because no physical harm had come to anyone. The judge disagreed, citing churned stomachs and sleepless nights as physical effects.
"I'm not trying to downplay the effects on neighbors," Oyama said. "I believe that they are somewhat relieved now that none of his conduct has re-occurred. My client is committed to keeping the peace at this point in time."
After the court hearing, some neighbors lauded the judge's decision and noted that they now feel safe in their neighborhood.
"I wanted protection for my family," said neighbor Neal Ishida. "We want to sleep and be able to play. It's so peaceful. We get to play in the streets, talk to neighbors, all the things that's neighborhoods do. Now that we've got that, we're happy."
Ishida said his young daughter, Taylor, was traumatized by Domingues and wasn't allowed outdoors without one of her parents present.
Taylor Ishida attended the court hearing and said she felt good about the outcome.
"We don't have to hear him threatening, and we can play outside without my friends getting all scared," she said.
Domingues must still face the Hawai'i Paroling Authority to learn what his minimum sentence will be and whether he might get a chance to return to Sand Island.
Reach Eloise Aguiar at firstname.lastname@example.org.