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Plea deal reached in Christmastime carjacking

A 25-year-old Hilo woman has pleaded no contest to second-degree robbery in the violent carjacking in Puna of a visitor from Alaska on Dec. 27, 2020.

Tiane K.F. Kapeli-Spencer entered the plea in Hilo Circuit Court Dec. 1 via videoconference from Hawaii Community Correctional Center, where she remains in custody.

According to Deputy Prosecutor Kevin Hashizaki, Kapeli-Spencer agreed to a 10-year prison term for the Class B felony charge when she is sentenced by Judge Peter Kubota at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 16.

Kapeli-Spencer originally faced a first-degree robbery charge. The Class A felony charge, which carries a potential 20-year prison term, was filed because the offense occurred during a declared emergency period due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In return for her plea, that charge was downgraded, and additional charges of first-degree theft, unauthorized control of a stolen vehicle, credit card theft, and unauthorized possession of confidential personal information were dismissed.

In addition, an unrelated misdemeanor assault charge against Kapeli-Spencer also was dropped, and she agreed to revocation of her probation in three other unrelated cases.

According to court documents filed by police, the victim — who identified Kapeli-Spencer in a photographic lineup — told officers she had pulled over on Highway 130 near the 15-mile marker to rearrange items in her rental car, a 2019 Ford Mustang convertible. The victim said she was startled by a local woman who asked her if she needed help.

Documents state the victim got out of the car, and the local woman asked for a cigarette. As the victim entered the car to get the woman a cigarette, she reportedly noticed two other local women exiting a dark SUV that had parked in front of the Mustang.

As the two women approached the victim, the first woman got into the driver’s seat of the Mustang, which was still running.

When the victim attempted to stop the rental car from being stolen, the woman in the driver’s seat punched the victim in the left temple with a closed fist while the other two women held her back, according to documents.

Documents state the other two women got back into the SUV and followed the stolen Mustang toward Hilo.

The victim told police that items in the car when it was stolen included a handbag, a wallet with credit cards and about $140 in cash, a Sony digital camera, a duffel bag with clothing, a tent and camping gear, and a black obsidian knife, according to documents.

A fingerprint on the stolen vehicle — which was recovered the following day in the Waiakea Uka area of Hilo — tied Kapeli-Spencer to the crime, documents state.

According to police, the victim declined to testify, and Kapeli-Spencer was the only person charged for the incident.

Kapeli-Spencer has 34 prior arrests and eight felony convictions, including four for unauthorized control of a stolen vehicle.

Email John Burnett at
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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