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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Crime bill would put 'halo' around schools

By Mary Vorsino
Advertiser Urban Honolulu Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Darren Weaver, center, spoke about a crime bill backed by Rep. John Mizuno and Rep. Kymberly Pine, shown with him.

RICHARD AMBO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Five months after 18-year-old Iris Rodrigues-Kaikana was killed and her body dumped in a pedestrian walkway just across the street from Farrington High School, her family members are pushing for the new measure being introduced this session to increase the penalties for violent crimes committed in or near schools.

"Schools are refuges," said Darren Weaver, Rodrigues-Kaikana's cousin, speaking yesterday at a news conference on the proposal at Farrington High School. Weaver, a coach at Farrington, came up with the suggestion for tougher penalties after thinking about what could be done to prevent another such murder.

"Schools are places to be safe," said Weaver.

The measure, dubbed the "halo bill," would increase sentences for violent crimes committed within a 750-foot "halo" around any public or private school or public park. The definition of schools under the bill includes preschools through high schools. College campuses would not be covered.

State Rep. John Mizuno, D-30th (Kamehameha Heights, Kalihi Valley, Fort Shafter), will introduce the bill this session and said he is optimistic about its chances for passage. He said the bill would mean those who commit crimes in or near schools or parks would automatically be subject to maximum sentencing.

"For murder, for rape, there is no chance to have it brought down to a lesser sentence," Mizuno said.

Mizuno said the bill is in part meant to help Kalihi continue healing from the brutal killing of Rodrigues-Kaikana. Her death "took the wind out of us," said Mizuno. "It hurt not only Iris' ... family. The community was hurt also. They needed to do something. This was the follow-up."

Rodrigues-Kaikana's nude body was found Aug. 24 in an alleyway adjacent to Kamehameha Homes.

Corbit Ahn, 29, is awaiting trial on charges of second-degree murder and sexual assault.