A 27-year-old Honokaa man was sentenced to 10 years behind bars Friday for a series of domestic abuse incidents that took place between February and April.
Adam Kahekili Kepoo pleaded no contest in October to seven felony charges including three counts of second-degree assault, two counts of domestic abuse aggravated by strangulation, and one count each of kidnapping and terroristic threatening. In exchange for Kepoo’s plea, 20 additional charges, including first-degree assault and two counts of first-degree sexual assault, were dropped.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Annaliese Wolf said the victim came to Hawaii from New Hampshire in February to work remotely. Shortly after arriving, she met Kepoo on the Tinder dating app. After a few weeks of dating, things quickly became physically abusive. The first incident of violence came on the back roads of Honokaa where Kepoo slapped her hard enough that she fell. He then took her phone and threw it into the jungle.
After her phone was destroyed, she lost contact with her job and family, who filed a missing person report.
One night, according to the prosecutor, Kepoo accused the victim of cheating on him and punched her five times with a closed first. On another occasion, Wolf said the man held a switchblade to the victim’s throat and threw a baseball-sized rock at her head that resulted in hours of bleeding.
There were further incidents of Kepoo beating, biting, choking, slicing with a knife, sexually assaulting and withholding food and water, causing the victim to loose an estimated 50 pounds.
In a statement submitted to the court, the victim said Kepoo told her that she was not allowed to eat because “she lost that privilege” and she “wasn’t fulfilling her role as a woman.”
She said Kepoo liked to make her bleed, and would lick the blood off her, calling the action a “blood bond.”
On April 23, police encountered the two sitting in a car in an illegal parking spot at Kawaihae Harbor. Officers observed a knife between Kepoo’s legs and blood across the tank top and chest of the victim.
Police also observed the woman had multiple bruises, both eyes blackened, scars, cuts and bite marks on her. After separating the two and receiving the victim’s statement, Kepoo was put under arrest.
After his arrest, Kepoo made a statement to police that he had taken “absolute care of this female.”
He also told the detective in charge “I’m trying to make a housewife out of this chick.”
In response to the victim’s injuries, he said “I fully own all of them” but nursed her back to health on several occasions, showing that he cared for her.
The victim ultimately received medical care for her injuries, which included strangulation, blunt force trauma to the head, concussion, subconjunctival hemorrhage, periorbital fractures, orbital floor fractures, nasal bone fractures, multiple lacerations to her head, chest and ankle, and bruising across her body including a bite marks and burn to her wrist.
Wolf, who read the victim’s statement to court, said the woman had accepted that she was going to die, and if police did not find them that day in Kawaihae, she was certain she would have been killed.
The victim was unable to escape because Kepoo never left her out of his sight.
“He knew exactly what he was doing and he enjoyed it,” she said in the statement read by Wolf.
Kepoo addressed the court after the victim statement was read.
“I want to get a second chance. I haven’t had the time to talk to her to see how she really feels about me. I did love her,” he said. “She needed me as much as I needed her. I went to great lengths to take care of her. I expressed how much I loved her and cared about her in my own way.”
Judge Wendy DeWeese, before handing down Kepoo’s sentence, said that in all her time as judge and defense attorney that this was one of the most serious cases of domestic violence she has encountered.
“I cannot understand how you can stand in front of me and say you cared for her,” the judge said. “What is most frightening about this case is the amount of cruelty involved. It paints a very scary picture.”
DeWeese noted Kepoo’s prior conviction for abuse of a household or family member, for which he was given probation. She said he did not take advantage of the programs offered to him.
“I am not willing to take the chance to release you into the community,” she said after defense council asked for probation.
DeWeese sentenced Kepoo to 10 years for the kidnapping charge and five years each for the remaining charges to run concurrently. The Hawaii Paroling Authority will determine his minimum term.
Kepoo has been in custody since his arrest on April 23 and will be credited for time served.
Email Laura Ruminski at email@example.com.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald