Reverend assaulter gets up to 10 years

  • Kyle Arellano

KEALAKEKUA — A Kailua-Kona man who pleaded no contest to charges connected to assaulting and robbing a Buddhist minister was sentenced to serve up to 10 years in prison.

Kyle Arellano appeared before 3rd Circuit Court Judge Melvin Fujino Wednesday morning. In February, the 22-year-old pleaded no contest to first-degree criminal property damage, second-degree robbery and unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle.

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The charges stem from an incident on Dec. 26 when Arellano assaulted and robbed a reverend outside the Kona Koyasan Daishiji Mission in Holualoa. The following day, Arellano broke into a car at the Veterans Affairs Kona Community Based Outpatient Clinic on Hualalai Road and stole a veteran’s medication. He later reportedly stole a 2007 Honda Accord from the Honokohau Harbor.

At the time of the December incidents, Arellano was out on bail after pleading not guilty to a class B felony of first-degree criminal property damage stemming from a November 2018 case. Wednesday’s sentencing addressed both cases.

Deputy Prosecutor Mark Disher told the court that the state had serious concerns with this particular defendant. Arellano blames his actions on his drug addiction. While Disher is sure that’s a contributing factor, that’s not the whole reason.

“This is basically a crime spree with several different victims and incidents,” Disher said in reference to the December crimes. “He also seems to victim blame as well.”

While the presentence investigative report suggested probation, Disher requested prison.

“If the court is inclined to give probation, we’d ask for the full 18 months jail,” the prosecutor said, adding a no contact order be put in place for the victims impacted in the case.

Deputy Public Defender Joanna Sokolow said since Arellano has been in custody he’s applied for residential treatment.

“Mr. Arellano has done the only thing he can do. He has confessed,” Sokolow said. “All he could do is offer his responsibility for his actions.”

Arellano read two letters in open court. The first was to the reverend.

“I’m very sorry for what I’ve done to you,” Arellano said. “I pray that you can find it in your heart to forgive me.”

The 22-year-old said he knew it was wrong to put his hands on anyone.

“I’ve learned my lesson,” he added. “I really am not a bad person.”

Arellano also read aloud a letter he wrote to the judge. He said he felt ready to go home and start drug treatment.

“I got my freedom taken away from me because of my drug use,” Arellano stated. “I want my freedom so bad I’m willing to do anything so I can keep it.”

The 22-year-old said he has a lot of good in him.

“Please give me a chance,” he said. “I’m a good kid. I don’t want to be coming in and out of jail.”

One of the victims spoke prior to Fujino passing sentence.

“I really want this person to understand what his actions did to my family,” she said.

The woman explained the medication stolen from the truck in the VA parking lot was to treat her husband’s PTSD and traumatic brain injury. Since the theft, she said they lock their doors.

“He stole that ease that we grew up with,” she said. “Those actions aren’t tolerable. He needs to understand what he took from us.”

After everyone had a chance to speak, Fujino asked Arellano to think about what he did.

“There’s victims in court that you don’t know,” the judge said. “You damaged them psychologically. One of the worst things you did is you go to a church where people pray to get relief and when the reverend comes out you whack him in the head.”

The judge added that just because he’s on drugs doesn’t make him a violent person.

Fujino’s final decision was to commit Arellano to the Department of Public Safety for an indeterminate period of 10 years. His counts would be served concurrently. The Hawaii Paroling Authority will ultimately decide how much time he will serve for the offenses.

“You … get out of prison, the ball is in your court,” Fujino said to Arellano.

Outside the courtroom Wednesday, the reverend said he’s not yet ready to forgive Arellano. After the assault and robbery, he explained he still cannot sleep as every sound startles him.

As he thought about Arellano’s letter to him, he said it “sounded like what everyone would say.”

“Hard to believe at which point there was honesty,” said the victim, who asked not to be identified.

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Disher was surprised by Fujino’s decision as he believed Arellano would get probation, as advised in the presentence report.

“Believe justice was served,” the prosecutor said. “The actions of this individual goes beyond mere drug addiction.”

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