Driver in fatal crash facing lesser sentence
By Kevin Dayton
Advertiser Big Island Bureau
By Kevin Dayton
HILO, Hawai'i — A Volcano man involved in a head-on collision that killed two people in 2004 faces up to 20 years in prison after pleading no contest yesterday to two negligent homicide charges.
Stanley Keliiholokai, 19, tested positive for methamphetamine and marijuana after the head-on crash Aug. 19, 2004, which occurred as Keliiholokai was attempting to pass cars on Volcano Highway.
Police said Keliiholokai was driving a Mitsubishi sedan toward Hilo on Volcano Highway when he attempted to pass several vehicles in a no-passing zone near Nahelenani Street in Volcano.
His car collided head-on with a Chevrolet sedan driven by Rogelio Manahan. Manahan's wife, Jeannette E. Manahan, 53, of Elmhurst, N.Y., who was a passenger in the front seat, was killed in the crash.
Also killed was Keliiholokai's front-seat passenger, Clinton Kaleiwahea, 31, of Volcano.
Keliiholokai originally was charged with two counts of manslaughter, and if convicted would have faced a penalty of up to 20 years in prison for each count.
Under the terms of yesterday's plea agreement, Keliiholokai pleaded no contest to two counts of first-degree negligent homicide, which each carry penalties of up to 10 years in prison.
He also pleaded no contest to one count of negligent injury, and one count of failure to render aid.
In exchange for those no contest pleas, prosecutors agreed to ask for no more than 20 years in prison when Keliiholokai is sentenced on April 26.
Prosecutors also agreed to drop several charges including operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle, and driving without a license.
"I think the offer that we made was what we felt we likely would get at trial," said Deputy Prosecutor Rick Damerville.
Damerville said he will discuss the case with the victims and their families and decide whether to seek a 20-year prison term. He said Keliiholokai has no previous criminal convictions, and Judge Greg Nakamura will have the discretion to impose sentences ranging from probation to 20 years in prison.
Keliiholokai has been held at the Hawai'i Community Correctional Center since he was charged in the case in 2004.
Reach Kevin Dayton at email@example.com.