A 21-year-old Naalehu man was sentenced Friday to one year in jail and five years of probation stemming from a 2008 Ka‘u traffic crash that killed a 12-year-old boy.
Third Circuit Court Chief Judge Ronald Ibarra handed down the sentence to Kevin R. Galigo Friday for his role in a Nov. 11, 2008, crash that left Naalehu resident Blaycen Jara dead and the boy’s 18-year-old cousin seriously injured. Galigo was taken into custody to begin serving his sentence at the end of the hearing.
Galigo must also pay $860 in fees in addition to restitution yet to be determined, Ibarra said. He must also write letters of apology to Jara’s mother, father and cousin and complete 200 hours of community service within three years of his release from jail.
Galigo was indicted Feb. 17 by a Big Island grand jury on first-degree negligent homicide and first-degree negligent injury, according to court records. He pleaded guilty May 18 to second-degree negligent homicide and first-degree negligent injury in connection with the fatal crash.
Prior to the sentence being handed down Friday, Galigo apologized to the court and said he was sorry to the family. He was 17 at the time of the wreck and did not have a juvenile record.
He admitted to Ibarra that he had smoked marijuana and had a “couple” beers earlier in the day before getting behind the wheel of a modified Honda Civic with Jara and his cousin as passengers, and traveling 70 mph on Kamaoa Road. Galigo apparently lost control of the vehicle, which hit a utility pole and overturned.
Jara’s mother, Brenda Kekoa, and his eldest sister, Jade Kekoa-Jara, made short statements prior to Ibarra handing down his sentence. The family showed up about 15 minutes late for the hearing, after Deputy Prosecutor Jeff Burleson had already told Ibarra it was unlikely the family would be present.
Kekoa described the angst the family has gone through since the crash and asked Ibarra to at least impose a jail sentence and require Galigo to perform his community service at a morgue. Kekoa-Jara, wiping tears from her eyes, described how the death of her brother has impacted her life.
“Since we lost him in 2008, it’s been really hard,” she said. “He should do some jail time because it’s affected me really badly.”
In handing down the sentence, Ibarra imposed punishment far less than Burleson had argued for during the hourlong hearing.
Burleson had requested a five-year prison term for Galigo on Friday.
Ibarra, however, pointed out that in the case’s presentencing report, approved by Burleson, prosecutors had recommended probation and six months jail.
Galigo’s attorney, Frank Miller, argued for the court to follow the report. He noted Galigo had no prior record and has since improved his life and was unlikely to reoffend.
Galigo’s mother, Barbara Galigo, and Jara’s mother, Kekoa, embraced for several minutes outside the courthouse following the hearing. Kekoa said she hopes not only Galigo, but the whole community, will learn from the accident.
“We were good friends, and I’m so sorry for what happened,” said Barbara Galigo, who said the two families had been close prior to the accident and forgiveness had since been exchanged. “I hope (my son) will come out and go on and be a better person.”