A judge has denied the request to use Kaulana’s Law in sentencing Jeremy K. Lee for the hit and run death of doctor Eugene Chin. The law could have extended Lee’s prison sentence by an additional 10 years.
Lee plead guilty to negligent homicide in the hit and run death of Chin in September 2018.
Ed Werner, Kaulana Werner’s father consoled Lisa Hyatt, Chin’s daughter outside circuit court after the judge ruled that the state failed to prove Lee was a danger to society–a key component in using Kaulana’s Law to extend his sentence.
“It’s frustration. That’s the message it sends out. That’s frustration that somebody can kill somebody, willingly by drinking and driving, and they don’t get a lot of punishment for that,” Hyatt said.
Kaulana’s Law would have allowed the judge to extend the maximum penalty from 10 to 20 years. The law was named after Kaulana Werner, who was killed by a drunk driver in 2016.
“Our son ain’t going be back. Her dad ain’t going be back. Ten years what we’re looking at, (maybe) four years in jail. I don’t think that’s fair,” said Werner.
This was the first time Kaulana’s Law was being considered in a case since it was adopted in July 2018.
“The intent of my son’s law is to place the judgement for the penalty to the hands of the ones who have the knowledge and the expertise,” said Werner as he wiped tears from his eyes.
“We trust our judges will make the right decision…today was a disappointing day,” Werner said.
Werner said he plans to continue to fight for tougher legislation that would broaden the requirements needed to get extended sentences for people who knowingly make bad choices that result in the death of another person.
Werner said he has zero tolerance for anyone who gets behind the wheel after they’ve been drinking and driving and kills someone.
“It’s murder to us, to Lisa too. Its percent preventable. And if you get behind the wheel it should be murder it should be manslaughter. None of this negligent homicide. I don’t think that’s fair.”
Lee’s sentencing is scheduled for December 12, 2019.