Kahului woman placed on four years' probation for assault of police officers – Maui News

May 28, 2022
WAILUKU — A woman who stayed sober and got a job and driver’s license after being released from jail in January was placed on four years’ probation for crimes including assaulting police officers who were trying to arrest her.
Kaiulani Saia, 23, of Kahului could have faced a prison sentence “if it wasn’t for the work you put in these last four months,” 2nd Circuit Judge Kirstin Hamman said in imposing the sentence May 20.
Saia had pleaded guilty to unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle, second-degree criminal property damage, second-degree theft, two counts of theft of a credit card and third-degree theft for stealing a vehicle on Jan. 7, 2020.
That day, Saia was part of a cleaning crew, got into an argument with the supervisor and was told to leave, according to information presented when Saia changed her plea to guilty. She returned and attempted to steal a U-Haul truck, damaging the truck before stealing the other vehicle, which contained property including credit cards, according to the information.
In another case, Saia had pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree assault on a law enforcement officer, first-degree resisting an order to stop a motor vehicle and second-degree reckless endangering.
Police were looking for her when two Crime Reduction Unit officers approached her in her vehicle June 23. She locked the doors, started the vehicle and tried to drive away. The officers broke a window and Saia punched and kicked the officers, according to information presented in court. She tried to bite one officer and did bite the other officer before reversing the car while one officer was in the door jamb and had to jump out of the way, according to the information.
A plea agreement allowed the prosecution to seek a prison term for Saia who “has quite an extensive record,” said Deputy Prosecutor Carson Tani. But he said probation might be more effective because Saia had “been doing fairly well recently.”
Deputy Public Defender Ben Lowenthal said a difficult childhood preceded Saia’s drug use and criminality that followed.
“At the age of 23, Kaiulani decided she was going to change her course,” he said. “Because if it continued, she would end up in prison or worse.”
After being released on supervision when she changed her plea in January, Saia remained sober and was advancing in a treatment program, Lowenthal said. He said she obtained her driver’s license and was starting a new job.
“She’s knocking it out of the park,” Lowenthal said. “She’s doing everything expected of her and she’s gone above and beyond with these achievements.”
“I’m tired of letting my past predict my future,” Saia said. “I don’t want to use that as an excuse anymore.”
Saia was given credit for more than six months she spent in jail. She was ordered not to consume alcohol or illegal drugs and to pay $108 in restitution for an ankle monitor she cut off.
Judge Hamman told Saia she had control over her future. “You are not a victim of your circumstances from when you were a child,” Hamman said.
She said Saia wasn’t bound by her history of “blatant disrespect for the law.”
“It sounds like you’ve made genuine changes for yourself, for your family, for your friends, for the community,” the judge told Saia.
“There are so many young women in your circumstances who are maybe on the same track,” Hamman said. “You can be a leader and a mentor for those young women.”
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at lfujimoto@mauinews.com.
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