Man gets up to 5 years for firing gun during eruption

  • John William “Bill” Hubbard, left, appears June 4, 2018, in Hilo District Court with Deputy Public Defender Michael Ebesugawa. (JOHN BURNETT/Tribune-Herald)

KEALAKEKUA — A Leilani Estates man has been sentenced to serve up to five years in prison for pointing a gun and firing shots at a lava evacuee last year amid Kilauea Volcano’s Lower East Rift Zone eruption.

John William Hubbard was ordered by Kona Circuit Court Judge Melvin H. Fujino on Wednesday morning to serve up to five years in prison for each of the five counts of first-degree terroristic threatening that he pleaded guilty to earlier this year. The terms will run concurrently, or at the same time.

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The Hawaii Paroling Authority will determine the minimum sentence he must serve before he can be eligible to seek parole. He will, however, receive credit for time served of 117 days.

He must also pay a $105 fee and restitution of $1,149.99 to the victim.

Hubbard’s sentence handed down in state court will run concurrent with a federal prison term handed down in late June in U.S. District Court in Honolulu, and officially entered with the court this week. Hubbard pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm back in March.

U.S. District Court Chief Judge Michael Seabright ordered Hubbard to serve 23 months in federal prison, to run concurrently with the sentence handed down by the state this week.

He was also ordered to three years supervised release. A fine of $7,500 was also imposed in addition to a $100 monetary assessment.

Hubbard was ordered by both courts to turn himself in to begin serving his sentence on Aug. 8.

On Thursday, Deputy Public Defender Ann Datta filed a motion to reduce the sentence. A hearing has yet to be set on the matter.

The charges were filed in connection with a May 29, 2018, incident in Puna during the Kilauea eruption. A video on social media captured Hubbard threatening five people and firing multiple gunshots in the area.

One of victims, a 32-year-old man from Leilani Estates, told police that he and several acquaintances were surveying the area of his former residence that had been taken by lava when a man, later identified as Hubbard, approached them in a pickup truck.

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The suspect allegedly assaulted, then pointed a firearm at the victim and his group, demanding they immediately leave the area. During the argument, the suspect fired several gunshots from a handgun.

Hubbard was also charged in U.S. District Court in Honolulu for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

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