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Jared Denault pleads no contest to negligent homicide in hit-and-run accident

LIHU‘E — The Wailua man who caused a 2020 hit-and-run fatality pleaded no contest to felony charges on Tuesday.

Jared Denault, 45, appeared at the Lihu‘e courthouse from Kaua‘i Community Correctional Center sporting a brown jumpsuit, where he pleaded to charges of negligent homicide and leaving the scene of the accident.

Prosecutors alleged Denault was speeding in a 2015 white Nissan pickup truck on Kaumuali‘i Highway on June 19, 2020, when he crossed the center line and collided head-on with a Porsche driven by 60-year-old Lihu‘e resident Gustavo Orellana, who died at the scene. Denault fled after the accident.

Orellana, who was born in Ecuador, owned and operated Gus Tile Marble &Granite Shop, according to his obituary.

“(Denault) did intentionally, knowingly or recklessly fail to immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident … and fulfill the duty to give information and render aid,” said Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Ginger Grinpas, reading the charges against the defendant.

In a deal with prosecutors, Denault pleaded to two counts of the indictment, while four other counts against him were dropped.

The two counts Denault pleaded to carry maximum penalties of five years and a $10,000 fine, and 10 years and a $25,000, respectively. Prosecutors agreed to recommend Denault serve a concurrent, open term. Minimum terms will be decided by the Hawai‘i Paroling Authority.

Denault also faces a case in civil court that could set him back more than $100,000.

Progressive, Orellana’s insurance provider, filed a complaint against Denault and the owner of the car requesting $100,000 for personal injuries suffered by Orellana, $11,026 for property damage to the vehicle, and a $500 deductible, for a total of $111,526 — plus attorney fees.

Denault has a lengthy criminal record going back to 2010, which includes two convictions for abuse of family, one for third-degree assault, second-degree escape, operating a motor vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant and firearm violations.

In 2014, Denault briefly escaped from the minimum-security Laumaka Work Furlough Center while serving time for firearms violations.

Deputy Public Defender Marissa Agena motioned for Denault’s supervised release at the Sand Island Treatment Center on O‘ahu on Tuesday. Grinpas argued against the motion due to Denault’s history of escape, and the request was not granted.

Denault’s sentencing is set for Feb. 2, 2023.

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Guthrie Scrimgeour, reporter, can be reached at 808-647-0329 or gscrimgeour@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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