KAILUA-KONA — A fifth accomplice was sentenced Friday to six years in jail for her role in assisting Justin Waiki after the July 2018 murder of Hawaii County Police Officer Bronson Kaliloa.
Malia Lajala received the maximum sentence from Kona Circuit Judge Robert D.S.Kim after she was found guilty in November of first-degree hindering prosecution and the lesser offense of second-degree attempted assault of a law enforcement officer after a six-week jury trial.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Kauanoe Jackson argued for the maximum sentence.
“She made a purposeful choice,” said Jackson. “The longer he (Waiki) was out, the longer the danger existed. She made a choice of hindering Waiki, which led to Officer (Bryan) Tina getting hurt.”
Jackson also detailed Lajala’s previous convictions including two for abuse, three assaults, robbery and burglary.
“She is a danger. She is violent and disregards the authority of our community,” Jackson said.
Lajala’s attorney, James Biven, argued for probation.
“Malia knew she was wrong when she didn’t call the police, but she has been incarcerated for 18 months,” he said, noting anything more would be severe consequences for her behavior.
Kim sentenced Lajala to five years incarceration for the first-degree hindering prosecution and one year for second-degree assault on a law enforcement officer. The terms are consecutive, which means they are to be served one after another. The 18 months she has been incarcerated will be credited toward the five-year sentence.
“What you did cannot be ignored,” said Kim after handing down the maximum sentence for the convictions. “Your loyalty to him was misguided. I need to protect the community and you put the community at risk. This conduct will not be tolerated. That is why I am not giving you any leniency.”
Lajala, Krystle Ferreira and Jorge Pagan-Torres were each charged with two counts of first-degree hindering prosecution and first-degree attempted murder for their roles in assisting Waiki.
Ferreira and Pagan-Torres were found not guilty of hindering prosecution and guilty of the lesser offense of second-degree reckless endangering, a misdemeanor.
Ferreira and Pagan-Torres were sentenced to one year each, with credit for time served.
The three, along with a fourth person, Jamie Jason, were in a vehicle with Waiki when police tracked the man down three days after he shot and killed Kaliloa on the side of Highway 11 in Puna on July 17, 2018. Waiki was killed in an exchange of bullets on South Point Road during which Tina suffered nonfatal gunshot wounds.
Jason is being tried separately as her case is tied-up in appeal over statements made while she was hospitalized. She faces two counts of first-degree hindering prosecution, first-degree attempted murder and place to keep pistol or revolver, and two firearms offenses, ownership or possession prohibited fugitive. She remains in custody in lieu of $100,000 bail at Hawaii Community Correctional Center.
Three others were also charged in connection with the case; Kiel Brende and Mokihana Veincent have since pleaded out and been sentenced while the third, Taumi Carr, awaits trial in February. Carr is free on $25,000 bail.
The Hawaii Paroling Authority will determine the minimum amount of time Lajala must serve before becoming eligible for parole.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald