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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 10:32 a.m., Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Kaua'i man may face 50 year-term for drug charges

By Amanda C. Gregg
The Garden Island

Facing as many as 50 years in prison, Byron Say pleaded guilty yesterday to first-degree promotion of a dangerous drug and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The charge of first-degree promotion of a dangerous drug stems from a March 21, 2006, traffic stop of a car driven by Aquila Say, Byron's sister-in-law, in Kapa'a, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Christopher Bridges said. Police obtained a search warrant after noticing Byron Say moving his hands under the passenger seat and recovered a fanny pack with 33.44 grams of methamphetamine inside, he said. The second charge is for heroin that was allegedly found in his possession after he fled an accident scene where a woman was run over.

The felonies have the potential to yield the large amount of time because Say could be subjected to the maximum sentences attached to each of the offenses, said Circuit Judge Kathleen Watanabe, as reported in The Garden Island.

That's despite a deal that elicited Say's guilty plea and stipulated that the state would not ask for consecutive sentencing or an extended term.

Watanabe has said repeatedly during Say's court appearances that she does not have to honor any sentence length that attorneys from both sides agreed to in the plea deal Say signed — a statement she reiterated again several times yesterday.

"The court does not have to follow the recommendation regarding sentencing," Watanabe said. "Because you are entering guilty pleas to more than one felony, regarding (first-degree promotion of a dangerous drug), the court has the option to sentence you to 40 years in prison in that case alone."

The felonies, coupled together, can potentially double the maximum sentence length for each, Watanabe said.

Separately, first-degree promotion of a dangerous drug would carry a maximum penalty of a $20,000 fine and 20 years in prison and conviction for possession of drug paraphernalia would yield a $10,000 fine and five-year prison term. However, because both charges are felonies, the penalty for first-degree promotion of a dangerous drug could become augmented to 40 years and the drug paraphernalia conviction could jump to 10 years.

A long prison term would offer some respite for Lisa Wilson, who said she was hit by Say's car while she was riding on the back of a motorcycle in June 2005. The county couldn't bring negligent injury charges against Say from the June 2005 incident because of double jeopardy, as he had already pleaded guilty to a DUI that happened the same night he allegedly ran over Wilson with his car.

Wilson, whose lungs were collapsed as a result, also endured several crushed, fractured and broken bones throughout her body. She has one implanted prosthetic limb, permanent organ damage and scars from where the road removed her skin.

Sitting in the back of the courtroom yesterday beside Steve Wheeler, the driver of the motorcycle, Wilson was quiet as Say pleaded guilty to the only two charges that remained from three cases that had at one time included second- and third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug, bail jumping and attempted tampering with physical evidence.

With the act of signing a few pieces of paper, Say entered his guilty plea for first-degree promotion of a dangerous drug, the charge that stems from the March 21, 2006, incident in which police stopped the car driven by Aquila Say, Byron's sister-in-law, in Kapa'a and seized several eight-balls of "ice."

Say also signed his name to plead guilty to possessing heroin after fleeing the accident scene where Wilson was allegedly left to fight for her life.

The deal exempted Aquila Say from allegedly aiding and abetting Byron when he was considered a fugitive.

Byron Say waived his right to a pre-sentence investigation, which would have been done by the probation department, and asked instead for a record check.

Byron and Aquila Say's next scheduled court appearance is Tuesday at 8:30 a.m.

For more Kaua'i news, visit The Garden Island.