Brothers take plea deal in beating of Maui police officer
By Melissa Tanji
WAILUKU — Two brothers originally charged with attempted murder in a beating that seriously injured an off-duty Maui police officer last year pleaded no contest to lesser charges yesterday in accordance with a plea agreement.
Leonard Sauceda Jr., 42, of Waihee, and Steven Sauceda, 39, of Wailuku, both had second-degree attempted murder charges reduced to first-degree attempted assault in the attack involving police Sgt. Jamie Becraft on April 4.
If convicted of the second-degree attempted murder charge, the men would have faced a mandatory term of life in prison with the possibility of parole. With the first-degree attempted assault charge, they face up to 10 years in prison.
Outside court, Deputy Prosecutor Andrew Martin said Becraft supports the plea agreement.
Becraft, a 20-year police veteran, suffered a contusion, abrasions and lacerations. At the time of the attack, Becraft was a detective who was assigned to the Lahaina Criminal Investigation Division. Becraft has returned to work and is now assigned to the DUI Task Force.
Leonard Sauceda Jr. also pleaded no contest to second-degree criminal property damage as originally charged and entered a no-contest plea to first-degree terroristic threatening, which was added on in the agreement.
Steven Sauceda pleaded no contest to two counts of first-degree terroristic threatening, which were added on in the plea agreement.
Sentencing for both men is scheduled for April 6 before 2nd Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza.
The men can receive prison terms of up to 20 years if Cardoza decides to impose consecutive terms. Instead of prison, the Saucedas could ask to be placed on five years' probation, with up to 18 months in jail. They will also have to pay any restitution if ordered in the case. Both men remain in custody, unable to post $500,000 bail each.
According to previous court testimony, Becraft went outside his home near Waihee Park around 10:30 or 11 p.m. to confront a teenage boy who was using a cast on his arm to smash mailboxes. The boy, his brother and a teenage girl surrounded Becraft, who reported being kicked and punched on the ground before he went back to his home and told his wife to call 911.
Becraft then went back outside because a boy was on the porch. First Steven Sauceda and then Leonard Sauceda Jr. ran up to the house, according to court testimony.
Both men used bats to strike Becraft, who said he was pinned down in a concrete planter in his yard while he was hit and kicked. He managed to break free when his wife got a baseball bat that she used to fight off her husband's attackers.
Most of Becraft's assailants fled when hearing police sirens, but Leonard Sauceda Jr. reportedly remained, using a bat to smash the headlights of a parked truck, which belonged to Becraft's friend.
According to the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center, Leonard Sauceda's record includes six convictions, one for abuse and five for contempt of court.
Steven Sauceda has 18 convictions. In 1999, he was sentenced to a 10-year prison term after being convicted for second-degree promotion of a dangerous drug and possessing drug paraphernalia.
He also has convictions for drunken driving, driving without a license, first-degree criminal trespass, disorderly conduct and harassment.
The state has not asked that Steven Sauceda, who has a felony record, serve a mandatory minimum term in the case.