Ex-HPD officer gets probation over death of Mililani jogger
In sentencing a retired Honolulu police major to five years of probation in connection with the death of a Mililani jogger, Circuit Judge Dean Ochiai described the case as a difficult situation involving two “good people.”
In July, Charles T. Duncan, a retired traffic investigator for the Honolulu Police Department with more than 30 years of service, pleaded no contest to second-degree negligent homicide after the pickup truck he was driving struck and killed Shari Afuso, 49, on Feb. 5, 2015, while she was jogging in Mililani.
Addressing Afuso’s family members who were present in the courtroom, Duncan apologized “for all the pain I have caused.” He added, “I accept full responsibility.”
Duncan broke down in tears when he told Afuso’s husband, Mark, her parents, and brother that her death was “a burden I will carry for the rest of my life.”
As he closed his emotional appeal to the victim’s family, Duncan said: “I can only hope that someday, in your heart, you will be able to find peace and forgiveness as I will never forget Mrs. Afuso nor will I forgive myself for what occurred that fateful night.”
After the sentencing Duncan hugged and consoled members of Afuso’s family as they filed out of the courtroom.
Deputy Prosecutor Scott Bell had sought a threemonth prison term, five years of probation and the suspension of driving privileges while on probation.
Richard Sing, Duncan’s attorney, argued against any prison term and sought a deferred acceptance of guilt, which would have meant that Duncan’s criminal conviction would have been stricken if he stayed out of trouble until the terms of his sentence were completed.
Ochiai denied the motion for deferral and let the conviction of negligent homicide remain on his record. The judge then sentenced Duncan, 73, to probation for five years.
However, Ochiai allowed Duncan, a Mililani resident, to retain his driver’s license because he serves as his ailing wife’s caretaker. Duncan will be allowed to drive only between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. The judge revoked Duncan’s motorcycle operator’s license.
In addition to probation, Duncan was ordered to perform 1,176 hours of community service.
The judge said sentencing tied to such a case is a difficult task.
“I know, truly, both sides are good people and this is one of those cases in which something in the heavens went haywire to bring these good people together with this tragic result,” Ochiai said.
Afuso, the courtroom manager for U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin S.C. Chang, was struck in a crosswalk a few blocks from her Mililani home.
Police said Duncan, driving a 2012 Chevrolet pickup, was making a left turn off Meheula Parkway at Kuahelani Avenue at about 7 p.m. when he hit Afuso. She was taken to the Queen’s Medical Center, and died there the following day.
Duncan, who retired from the Honolulu Police Department in 1996, said he had stopped at the crosswalk and didn’t see Afuso until he hit her.
Tommy Aiu, who knew Afuso when he worked for 30 years as a federal agent, asked for leniency for Duncan. Shortly before the accident, Duncan had attended an evening meeting regarding the Hawaii Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation, of which Aiu is chairman.
“It’s a tragedy that we lost Shari because she was such a great lady,” Aiu told
Ochiai. “Both sides are important to me because I’ve known both parties. I know there is no malice involved here. It’s just a terrible, horrible accident.”