Judges sentence Kihei men to 18 months in jail for fatal beating
Homeless man died as a result of ‘horrific’ attack in Kalama Park
WAILUKU — For participating in a “horrific” beating that led to the death of a homeless man at Kalama Park, two Kihei men were each sentenced Friday to 18-month jail terms.
Kaniela Dutro, 22, and Kekaimalu Cacpal, 23, also were placed on probation — Dutro for four years and Cacpal for five years.
“This was a horrific case, a tragic case,” said Deputy Prosecutor Carson Tani. “No person should suffer this way and die in this way.”
Dutro, Cacpal and a third teenager were implicated in the killing of 44-year-old Michael Phillip Gray. He was found unconscious in a pool of blood at a park pavilion at about 9 p.m. March 15, 2014.
The first police officer on scene reported that Gray’s eyes were swollen shut and were the size of golf balls because of the beating.
He suffered numerous facial fractures and skull fractures, a lacerated spleen, fractured ribs and a collapsed lung, according to police.
After being transported to Maui Memorial Medical Center, Gray died about three weeks later on April 11, 2014.
Originally charged with seconddegree murder, Dutro and Cacpal each had pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of first-degree assault.
In sentencing Dutro, 2nd Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo said it was sad that one of Gray’s canned goods might have been used to beat the victim. While it wasn’t positively identified as the weapon, the dented can was found nearby. Gray’s injuries were consistent with blunt force trauma.
Dutro’s attorney, John Parker, said Gray had a 40-ounce bottle that he used to strike one of the youths.
At least one witness described seeing people kicking and stomping on
Gray, Loo noted. “People kept showing a total disregard for him,” she said.
Dutro, who posted bail to be released from jail about a month after he was arrested in September
2014, asked to be spared any additional jail.
“He’s made a real effort to show the court and honor the court, that he respects the law,” Parker said.
Dutro was working, doing well in his job and complying with court requirements, Parker said.
“I grew up since that,” Dutro said in court Friday. “I try my hardest to do my best. I’ll never turn back to that. I’m truly sorry from the bottom of my heart.
“Mr. Gray was a friend of mine.” A plea agreement between the defense and prosecution recommended probation and no additional jail for Dutro.
Tani said the prosecution had explained and discussed the plea agreement with Gray’s family, including his father on the Mainland. “They understand, and they accept the plea agreement,” Tani said. “But they are not necessarily happy with it.”
Tani said Gray’s father decided not to attend the sentencing because he didn’t want to relive the pain he experienced when his son was killed.
“One of the most painful things that a parent should never go though is outliving their child,” Tani said.
“But that’s what happened in this case.”
Dutro reportedly told a probation officer he had been drinking and was under the influence that night, and he didn’t want to be a “rat.”
“It appears you’re basically unfazed about this whole incident,” Judge Loo told Dutro. “Mr. Gray was your friend. You knew him from Kalama Park. You were aware of the incident, and you could have been there to help him.”
Dutro said that when he walked past Gray to leave the pavilion, “I wasn’t aware. I was so intoxicated.”
During a scuffle with Gray, Dutro said, “I grabbed one of the boys, told him, ‘Let’s go.’ “
“I remember walking right past him as I left, and he was fine,” Dutro said.
He denied telling the probation officer he didn’t want to be a rat. “I said I was young at the time, and I was scared to say anything,” Dutro said.
“I’m affected a lot,” he said. “I think about it every single day.”
“Maybe you’ve been affected a lot, but you’re standing here alive and well,” Judge Loo told Dutro. “Mr. Gray’s in a box 6 feet under the ground.
“This was a horrific crime where Mr. Gray was beaten to death, and you were a significant part of that beating.”
Dutro was taken into custody Friday morning to serve the jail term.
Cacpal, who was sentenced Friday afternoon in another courtroom, was given credit for time he had already spent in jail exceeding 18 months.
Before being released on supervision in March, Cacpal had spent 1,269 days or about three years and six months in jail, said his attorney, Walter Vierra.
“The truth of the matter is Mr. Gray unfortunately perished as a result of Mr. Cacpal’s actions and the actions of the co-defendants,” Vierra said. “Whatever the court does today will not bring back Mr. Gray.”
Vierra said Cacpal had done well since being released from jail and was working full time.
“I’ve grown a lot, and I understand what happened was wrong,” Cacpal said in court. “I’m very sorry for what happened.”
In also recommending probation for Cacpal, Tani said Cacpal had cooperated with the prosecution from the start. His cooperation was instrumental in the plea agreement reached in Dutro’s case, Tani said.
Second Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza said the case would warrant a long prison term under normal circumstances. But he said the time Cacpal previously had spent incarcerated and his cooperation with the prosecution also were factors.
“It did lead to the conviction of Mr. Dutro, the party viewed as the central party in this matter,” Cardoza said. “So the court will recognize that.”
Cardoza said Cacpal should continue improving his life.
“Out of respect for the person who perished and just for your own sake and for the sake of the community, you have to make sure that you do something productive with your life,” the judge told Cacpal.
He and Dutro were ordered to share in paying $6,996 in restitution.
Both men also were ordered to complete anger management treatment and to write letters apologizing to Gray’s family. Dutro and Cacpal were ordered not to consume alcohol or illegal drugs.
Dutro was ordered to perform 200 hours of community service.
A third suspect, who was 15 years old at the time of the attack, is under Family Court jurisdiction.