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DUI offender who struck pedestrian seeks probation

KEALAKEKUA — A Kailua-Kona man incarcerated on Oahu will undergo a physical exam as part of a bid to reduce his five-year sentence to probation in order to seek medical care.

In September Nicholas Martin was sentenced to five years in prison for driving drunk twice within 24 hours and striking pedestrian Robert LaMarca within that time. Third Circuit Court Judge Melvin Fujino found Martin guilty of DUI and first-degree negligent injury despite the 69-year-old’s no contest plea. He is currently being held at Halawa Correctional Facility on Oahu.

During a hearing Friday, Martin’s attorney Brian De Lima said since his client’s incarceration he has faced numerous health issues. At Martin’s sentencing, De Lima told the court Martin suffered from neuropathic pain, which was part of his drinking problem.

On Friday, De Lima requested an order for an independent medical exam that his client would pay for. He added Martin has a severe medical condition that he’s been trying to deal with for the last five years.

“While he’s been incarcerated they’re not providing him the same kind of medical care and they won’t take his private medical insurance,” De Lima said of the state. “The idea is that if he’s on probation he could receive his medical treatment and not at the expense of the taxpayers.”

De Lima added Martin is in severe pain and suffering, which is “inhumane.”

Deputy Prosecutor Brit Barker said the state wouldn’t object to the physical exam.

“However, that doesn’t appear to change what our recommendation would be,” Barker said regarding Martin’s sentence.

Fujino granted the request. A hearing is scheduled on Feb. 15 where the prosecution will also address Martin’s restitution in the case.

Martin was first arrested on the evening of Nov. 30, 2017, after striking a parked vehicle on Lako Street in Kailua-Kona. His blood alcohol content level measured at 0.172, more than double the legal limit.

Martin was charged with DUI and posted $500 bail just after midnight. On Dec. 1, 2017, Martin was driving along Alii Drive when he struck Robert LaMarca, who was out for a run. His BAC was 0.168, again over double the legal 0.08 limit.

LaMarca suffered a traumatic brain injury as well as other critical injuries from the collision. After the crash, LaMarca spent a month in a coma after he was air lifted to The Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu.

LaMarca was present during Friday’s hearing and was visibly distressed at the possibility of Martin’s sentence being reduced to probation. Later in the afternoon, he provided the following statement:

“My biggest fear is if Mr. Martin is granted probation, he will seriously injure, or kill, someone else. I do not want anyone else to be left for dead on the side of the road. I don’t want anyone else to lose a month of their life to a coma. I don’t want anyone else to live every day of their life with a brain injury. I don’t want anyone else to lose the ability to work and provide financially for themselves.

“If this tragedy can bring awareness to the life and death consequences of driving under the influence, what I have been through and what I will be forced to go through for the rest of my life will not be in vain.”

LaMarca’s attorney Jeffrey Foster, filed a civil suit against Martin as well as LLC doing business as Sam Choy’s Kai Lanai and Olu Kai Ltd., doing business as Huggo’s On the Rocks, where the 69-year-old had been reportedly drinking prior to the crash.

A pretrial statement filed by Foster in 3rd Circuit Court claims negligence and dramshop liability against the defendants.

The court document indicates the restaurants maintain a number of duties, which include but are limited to: not to serve a person under the influence of alcohol, not to allow a person under the influence of alcohol to enter the premises and to reasonably manage and oversee the business and patron interaction of alcohol consumption.

The complaint asserts that on Dec. 1, 2017, Martin was permitted entry at Sam Choy’s and Huggo’s and allowed to drink alcohol while “in a condition of obvious, apparent, and/or evident intoxication.”

Foster said the civil case is currently in arbitration.

Lawyers for the establishments Huggo’s and Sam Choy’s declined to comment on Friday.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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