HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Department of the Prosecuting Attorney has successfully prosecuted a Honolulu man for brazenly snatching a 73-year-old woman’s purse.
On Thursday, February 13, a jury found 18 year-old Hardy Wesly Gabriel guilty of robbery in the second-degree.
Surveillance video taken on May 11, 2019 from the Izumo Taishakyo Mission Temple on North Kukui Street shows Hardy Wesly Gabriel jump out of the passenger seat of a car. He then follows his 73-year-old victim, rips her purse off her shoulder and runs back to the getaway car.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Scott Spallina, who prosecuted the case, said it was planned.
“This was not like, ‘Hey, there’s a woman over there, let’s just do it.’ They’re on the hunt. I mean, these guys are predators and unfortunately seniors today are their prey,” Spallina said.
“If you watch the video, you can see how they targeted that woman. They pulled up right next to her as she was unloading her vehicle.”
He added that the surveillance video was one of the keys to the case.
“HPD did a fine job of finding out who this person was. They reviewed the video in this case and because of their prior experience with this individual they were able to identify the criminal through that video.”
Acting Prosecuting Attorney Dwight Nadamoto said it’s not the first time Gabriel has been in trouble with the law.
“I understand he also has other charges pending. He has promoting drugs in the third degree.”
Gabriel has a prior conviction for assault. The robbery conviction is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Spallina said he is grateful that the victim wasn’t badly hurt.
“She had moxie to get up on the stand and say that she almost fell down because the force used against her was so strong. The only thing that saved her from being dragged was that her purse snapped. The strap of the purse snapped while she was being whipped around by this gentleman.”
If the elderly victim was hurt, Spallina said Gabriel would likely be facing even more time.
Police are still looking for the person who was driving the getaway car.
Gabriel remains in custody. His sentencing is scheduled for April 20.
Spallina said the elderly abuse unit at the prosecutor’s office is working hard crack down on these cases.
“We’ve had an elder abuse unit for about 12 years and it was set up for these types of crimes. We’ve always been serious about these crimes that’s why we’re going to the Capitol to seek tougher penalties for these types of crimes.”
“People in Honolulu have a right to be angry about all the purse snatchings, car jackings, and violent crimes – particularly crimes against senior citizens. The Prosecutor’s Office is aggressively working with police to bring the people who commit these crimes to justice,” Nadamoto said.