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State v. Puulei

Intermediate Court of Appeals of Hawaii

September 24, 2013

STATE OF HAWAI'I, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
WILLIAM K. PUULEI, Defendant-Appellant

NOT FOR PUBLICATION IN WEST'S HAWAI'I REPORTS AND PACIFIC REPORTER

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE FIFTH CIRCUIT (CRIMINAL NO. 12-1-0165)

On the briefs:

Phyllis J. Hironaka, Deputy Public Defender for Defendant -Appellant.

Tracy Murakami Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, County of Kauai for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Nakamura, C.J., Foley and Ginoza, JJ.

SUMMARY DISPOSITION ORDER

Defendant-Appellant William K. Puulei appeals from the August 7, 2012 Judgment of Conviction and Probation Sentence entered in the Circuit Court of the Fifth Circuit[1] (circuit court). Puulei was found guilty of robbery in the second degree pursuant to Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS) § 708-841(1) (b) (Supp. 2012), terroristic threatening in the second degree pursuant to HRS § 707-717 (1993), attempted extortion in the third degree pursuant to HRS §§ 707-767 (1993) and 707-764(1)(a) (Supp. 2012), and terroristic threatening in the first degree pursuant to HRS § 707-716(1)(e) (Supp. 2012). The circuit court found that the counts on which guilty verdicts were rendered for terroristic threatening in the second degree and attempted extortion in the third degree merged with the guilty verdict on the count for robbery in the second degree, and therefore as to these counts, the circuit court only imposed sentence on the robbery in the second degree count. Puulei contends there was insufficient evidence to find him guilty of robbery in the second degree and attempted extortion in third degree.

Upon careful review of the record and the briefs submitted by the parties and having given due consideration to the arguments advanced and the issues raised by the parties, as well as the relevant statutory and case law, we resolve Puulei's points of error as follows:

The standard of review on appeal for sufficiency of the evidence is substantial evidence. The Hawai'i Supreme Court has

long held that evidence adduced in the trial court must be considered in the strongest light for the prosecution when the appellate court passes on the legal sufficiency of such evidence to support a conviction; the same standard applies whether the case was before a judge or a jury. The test on appeal is not whether guilt is established beyond a reasonable doubt, but whether there was substantial evidence to support the conclusion of the trier of fact. Indeed, even if it could be said in a bench trial that the conviction is against the weight of the evidence, as long as there is substantial evidence to support the requisite findings for conviction, the trial court will be affirmed.
"Substantial evidence" as to every material element of the offense charged is credible evidence which is of sufficient quality and probative value to enable a person of reasonable caution to support a conclusion. And as trier of fact, the trial judge is free to make all reasonable and rational inferences under the facts in evidence, including circumstantial evidence.
State v. Batson, 73 Haw. 236, 248-49, 831 P.2d 924, 931 (1992).

State v. Matavale, 115 Hawai'i 149, 157-58, 166 P.3d 322, 330-31 (2007) (brackets omitted).

(1) "A person commits the offense of robbery in the second degree if, in the course of committing theft . . . [t]he person threatens the imminent use of force against the person of anyone who is present with intent to compel acquiescence to the taking of or escaping with the property[.]" HRS ยง 708-841(1)(b). "An act shall be deemed 'in the course of committing a theft . . .' if it occurs in an attempt to commit theft . . . in the commission of ...


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