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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Man gets 45 years for killing daughter

By Kevin Dayton
Advertiser Big Island Bureau

Douglas John Fathke

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HILO, Hawai'i A Big Island man was sentenced to 45 years in prison yesterday for fatally shooting his 8-year-old daughter at their Na'alehu home on April 20, 2003.

Douglas John Fathke, 47, who earlier pleaded guilty to manslaughter and two other charges, has a history of mental illness. He has said he doesn't remember shooting daughter Kelsie Fathke in the head with a .30-caliber rifle.

During a sentencing hearing yesterday, Hilo Circuit Judge Glenn Hara said Fathke represented an unpredictable threat to the community because he had never exhibited that kind of violent behavior before and the shooting was completely unexpected.

The judge imposed consecutive 20-year terms for manslaughter and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, and tacked on a five-year term for first-degree terroristic threatening, stemming from threats Fathke made to a 16-year-old boy who was a guest at the defendant's bed-and-breakfast operation.

Kelsie's mother, Memarie Dhillon of Tacoma, Wash., was at the hearing and said she wasn't buying Fathke's courtroom apology for the shooting.

"It's a little too late now," said Dhillon, 36. "No amount of years will ever be good enough. Whether it was 500 or 100, no amount will bring my daughter back, but it's good to know that he got the maximum amount allowed."

Kelsie, a second-grader at Na'alehu Elementary School in Ka'u, lived with her father for part of the year under a joint custody arrangement with Dhillon.

In asking for a 25-year sentence, defense attorney Brian De Lima said Fathke had no prior criminal record and was experiencing delusions and "in a great state of depression" at the time of the killing. De Lima said the defendant has been taking medication to stabilize his mental condition.

Reach Kevin Dayton at kdayton@honoluluadvertiser.com.