KAILUA-KONA — A woman convicted of a lesser offense for her role in assisting cop killer Justin Waiki is now free after her sentence was handed down Friday.
Malia 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 after the July 2018 murder of Hawaii County Police Officer Bronson Kaliloa.
Ferreira was found not guilty of hindering prosecution and guilty of the lesser offense of second-degree reckless endangering, a misdemeanor, after a six-week trial that ended in November.
On Friday, Kona Circuit Judge Robert D.S. Kim sentenced Ferreira to one year in jail with all but 178 days suspended and credit for time served, allowing Ferreira to walk out of the courtroom a free woman. She spent nearly six months in jail before bail was lowered to $100,000 and she bonded out.
Ferreira, while making a statement to the court before being sentenced, said she learned a life lesson.
“This has changed me,” she said. “Life is precious.”
Kim then handed down the sentence.
“I have heard and looked at everything in this six-week trial and I’m not going to lump all of the defendants together,” he said. “There is no guilt by association.”
Lajala was found guilty of first-degree hindering prosecution and the lesser offense of second-degree attempted assault of a law enforcement officer. She is slated to be sentenced in mid-January. Because of a 2015 conviction of second-degree robbery and first-degree burglary, Lajala is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 months.
Lajala remains in custody at Hawaii Community Correctional Center in lieu of $1 million bail.
Pagan-Torres was also found not guilty of hindering prosecution and guilty of the lesser offense of second-degree reckless endangering. He was sentenced to one year incarceration with credit for time served and discharged from the case because he had been incarcerated since being indicted last August.
However, because Pagan-Torres was on probation for a 2017 drug charge at the time of the 2018 incident, he will have a probation revocation hearing Dec. 18 in Hilo Circuit Court. He is currently out on bail.
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 an officer suffered nonfatal gunshot wounds.
Jason is being tried separately. Her case is tied up in appeal because of 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 HCCC.
Email Laura Ruminski at email@example.com.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald