A 33-year-old Hilo man who shot two police officers from beneath a modified van in a darkened parking lot early last year was sentenced Friday to life in prison without parole plus 10 years.
Keaka Martin was convicted April 24 by a jury for the shootings of Officers Joshua Gouveia and Garrett Hatada on the night of Jan. 2, 2013, in the parking lot of the Pono Place, the site of the former Green Onion cocktail lounge, on Kilauea Avenue in Hilo. A jury returned verdicts of attempted first-degree murder in the shooting of Gouveia, and first-degree assault in the shooting of Hatada. Martin had been charged with attempted first-degree murder in both shootings.
An attempted first-degree murder conviction carries a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Martin was also found guilty of two counts of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, carrying a loaded firearm on a street or highway, illegal place to keep a pistol and second-degree reckless endangering.
Both officers suffered wounds to their lower extremities and have since returned to duty. Both testified during trial, but only Gouveia was present at sentencing.
The 10-year assault sentence is to run consecutively to the attempted murder sentence, with sentences for the other offenses to run concurrently with the attempted murder sentence.
Deputy Prosecutor Rick Damerville, substituting for Deputy Prosecutor Darien Nagata, the lead prosecutor at trial, argued for the consecutive sentences, saying Martin blames others for “setting him up” and possesses “a mind that is extremely dangerous.”
“The argument can be made that his long-term substance abuse has turned him into a person who’s suffering from extreme paranoia. But that doesn’t excuse the behavior,” Damerville said. “He was pulling the trigger to kill people, to kill police officers, and he was hoping to get away with it. I mean, this is not even a suicide-by-cop kind of case where somebody is depressed because of long-term substance abuse and ends it all by inviting police officers to shoot him. No, this is someone whose hatred of police officers is so extreme that he … decided to shoot at them from a point where he could basically conceal himself. And under those circumstances, the amount of danger that he presents to the community is such consecutive sentencing is appropriate.”
Steve Strauss, Martin’s court-appointed attorney, argued all sentences should run concurrently.
“Mr. Martin has no prior felonies, no serious crimes of violence. With regard to the sentencing, the state’s argument is focused on consecutive sentencing,” Strauss said. “The court has to look at (appropriate statutes) to determine whether consecutive or concurrent sentencing is appropriate. I submit that … (in regard to) the need to adequate deterrence for criminal conduct, certainly there can be no further deterrence beyond that of a sentence of life imprisonment without parole that is needed to protect the community, as the state requests.”
Martin didn’t testify at trial, but maintains he was not the shooter.
“I think and I know that the trial was unfair for me and I don’t hate police officers,” he told the court. And I’m sorry that anybody got hurt but I believe in my heart that I did not do these crimes. … I think that people should come forward and take responsibility and not hold back the truth. … There was a lot of lies in the trial, which I was very disappointed in.”
Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura said the law presumes concurrent sentences in most cases, but told Martin the consecutive sentences for the attempted murder and assault charges are appropriate in his case.
“In this case, Officer Garrett Hatada was shot,” the judge said. “So with all counts concurrent would mean that the shooting of Officer Hatada would go without consequence. And the shooting of Officer Hatada involved serious criminal offenses which deserve separate punishment. And there is a need for the sentence to provide some degree of deterrence, that is, the stopping of others from committing similar crimes.”
County Prosecutor Mitch Roth said he’s “very satisfied with the sentence.”
“When you go after police officers, our community’s not going to accept that,” he said. “I think the judge did the right thing.”
Gouveia expressed “happiness that we’re over this” when the conviction was returned in April, but declined to comment Friday.
Martin’s mother, who appeared stunned when the sentence was announced, also declined to comment.
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.