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Leilani Estates man pleads guilty in Circuit Court

KEALAKEKUA — A Leilani Estates man who pleaded guilty to a federal charge after pointing a gun and firing shots at a lava evacuee last year has now also pleaded guilty to terroristic threatening in 3rd Circuit Court.

On Friday morning, John William Hubbard appeared before Judge Melvin Fujino where he entered a change of plea from not guilty to guilty on five counts of first-degree terroristic threatening, a class C felony. As part of the plea agreement with the state, the remaining charges of reckless endangering, place to keep a pistol or revolver, robbery and carrying a firearm in commission of a separate felony were dismissed.

“I’m here to take responsibility for what I did,” Hubbard said Friday before the court.

Hubbard could face up to five years in prison for each count and/or up to a $10,000 fine per offense.

Charges stem from an incident in Puna on May 29, 2018, during the Kilauea eruption. A video on social media captured Hubbard threatening five people and firing multiple gunshots in the area.

One of victims in the reported May incident, a 32-year-old man from Leilani Estates, told police that he and several acquaintances were surveying the area of his former residence that had been taken by lava when a man, later identified as Hubbard, approached them in a pickup truck.

The suspect allegedly assaulted, then pointed a firearm at the victim and his group, demanding they immediately leave the area. During the argument, the suspect fired several gunshots from a handgun.

According to federal court documents filed March 4, Hubbard admitted the weapon he possessed during the incident was a Colt .38 Special caliber revolver.

Hubbard was also charged in U.S. District Court in Honolulu on the offense of being a felon in possession of a firearm. On March 4, he pleaded guilty as charged.

In return for his guilty plea, the federal government agreed to recommend that the sentence given would be served concurrently with any sentence he receives in the state case. According to court documents, Hubbard faces up to 10 years of prison with a fine up to $250,000 and a term of supervised release up to three years.

Hubbard is scheduled to appear in federal court on June 17 for sentencing. Hubbard will be sentenced by Fujino thereafter.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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