Man changes plea in burglary, sex assault

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HILO — A 35-year-old Hilo man changed his plea Tuesday on charges he forced his way into a 23-year-old Hilo woman’s home and sexually assaulted her in October.

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HILO — A 35-year-old Hilo man changed his plea Tuesday on charges he forced his way into a 23-year-old Hilo woman’s home and sexually assaulted her in October.

Sir Richard Lee Canionero pleaded no contest to second-degree burglary and fourth-degree sex assault. Hilo Circuit Judge Glenn Hara scheduled sentencing for 1 p.m. Aug. 18.

Canionero originally was charged with first-degree burglary, kidnapping, attempted first-degree sex assault, second-degree sex assault, three counts of third-degree sex assault and disorderly conduct.

In exchange for his plea, prosecutors reduced the burglary and one sex assault charge and dismissed the remaining sex assault, attempted sex assault and disorderly conduct charges. Under conditions of the deal, Canionero will be sentenced to prison. The burglary charge is a Class C felony punishable by up to five years imprisonment, while the sex assault charge is a misdemeanor that carries a possible one-year jail term.

The state is free to argue at sentencing that Canionero should be sentenced to consecutive terms, for a total of six years, while the defense is free to argue for concurrent terms, which would be a five-year prison sentence. Any sentence will include credit for time served.

In addition, Canionero will be required to register as a sex offender. His attorney, Deputy Public Defender Michael Ebesugawa told the judge Canionero was advised that “after 10 years upon his release from prison, that he will be eligible to petition the attorney general to terminate” his status as a sex offender.

If convicted of kidnapping or attempted first-degree sex assault, Canionero would have faced a possible 20-year prison term. He was found fit to stand trial on May 17.

Canionero, who is in custody at Hawaii Community Correctional Center in lieu of $36,000 bail, will be eligible for parole.

“Judge, he has a lengthy misdemeanor record, but he has no prior felonies, so there’s no mandatory minimum sentence,” Deputy Prosecutor Rick Damerville told Hara.

Canionero’s rap sheet shows 50 convictions since 2001, including domestic abuse, unlawful imprisonment, stalking, violating a protective order, terroristic threatening, trespassing and marijuana possession.

Ebesugawa told the judge his client entered the no-contest plea “for civil liability purposes.”

“After discussing all the evidence and going over the police reports with Mr. Canionero, Mr. Canionero has decided not to contest the lesser-included charges against him,” he said.

The Tribune-Herald doesn’t publish the names of sex assault victims.

The victim didn’t testify in open court against Canionero, but Damerville said after the hearing “she was consulted” about the plea agreement.

“Given the substantial mental deficits of this particular defendant and the possible issues that might arise in a trial, this was a good disposition, in the state’s view,” he said.

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Ebesugawa declined to comment afterward.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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