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Former county council candidate in legal trouble

LIHU’E — A former Kaua‘i County Council candidate, who allegedly abused a teenage family member earlier this year, appeared in Fifth Circuit Court on Tuesday, at which a date was set for him to either accept a guilty plea or head to trial.

Wally Nishimura, who ran for county council in 2018 and 2020, has been charged by the state of Hawai‘i with two counts of physical abuse, according to court records filed on June 13.

According to court records, on May 1, 2023, the 32-year-old physically abused a teenage family or household member “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly.”

The unnamed victim was approximately 15 years old at the time of the incident. The physical abuse was also stated to have occurred in the presence of another minor family member who was approximately 13 years old at the time.

The incident led to Nishimura being charged with a class C felony offense for the abuse of family or household members in the presence of a minor under 14 years old, as well as a misdemeanor for the abuse itself, pursuant to sections 709-906 of Hawai‘i Revised Statutes.

According to Hawai‘i Revised Statutes, class C felonies carry a maximum prison sentence of five years. His bail at the time of arrest in June was set at $5,000. He was released on a surety bond.

On Tuesday, Nishimura appeared in court with his attorney, Craig De Costa, for a “change of plea” proceeding. He first entered a not guilty plea on June 27, according to court records.

“We did receive a plea offer,” said De Costa during court proceedings. “I’ve discussed it in part with Mr. Nishimura. We’d like time to come to consider it,” he said, adding they have until Oct. 30 to consider the offer.

The details of the plea offer were not stated in court, but Fifth Circuit Court Chief Judge Randal Valenciano advised Nishimura to work with his attorney.

“There’s some decisions you need to make,” he said before the courtroom moved on to another case.

The court record does not state Nishimura’s exact relationship with the alleged victims. The Garden Island previously reported Nishimura had grown up on Kaua‘i and graduated from Kapa‘a High School.

Nishimura also faced accusations of domestic abuse at around the same time the alleged abuse happened this year, according to court documents. A domestic abuse claim was filed on May 3, but the case was terminated soon after that time.

Nishimura is next expected to appear in court for either a change of plea or trial-setting hearing on Oct. 24 at 8 a.m.

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Emma Grunwald, reporter, can be reached at 808-652-0638 or egrunwald@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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