Kaua‘i Man Sentenced to 4 Years in Prison in Monk Seal Harassment Case
A 20-year-old Līhu‘e man was sentenced to four-years in prison for harassing a Hawaiian monk seal at Salt Pond Beach Park in Hanapēpē back on April 26, 2016.
The Honorable Kathleen N.A. Watanabe handed down the sentence today to Shylo Kaena Akuna in the Fifth Circuit Court after hearing arguments from Prosecuting Attorney Justin F. Kollar and defense counsel Mark Zenger, Esq.
A video recorded by bystanders showed Akuna aggressively harassing a Hawaiian monk seal at the beach park. Once the video went viral on social media, it was brought to the attention of law enforcement. Akuna was apparently highly intoxicated at the time.
“Animal abuse is often a precursor to other types of violence and cannot be tolerated in our community. We thank our public safety partners at DLNR and NOAA for their efforts in bringing this case to a successful resolution, especially DOCARE Officers Warren Tavares and Kalani Addington as well as NOAA Special Agent Brandon Jim On,” Kollar stated.
“Our natural environment is crucial to us in Hawai‘i; this includes respect for our endangered species. To the best of our knowledge this is the first conviction under the felony monk seal harassment statute and we are satisfied that the sentence was appropriate and will serve to protect the community from this defendant,” Kollar added.
Court records show that Akuna was also sentenced on June 23, 2017, to serve one year in jail for the unrelated theft and slaughter of a goat from a pasture on Kaua‘i’s west side in January of last year.
Akuna still faces charges regarding another unrelated case involving an alleged burglary of a room at the Po‘ipū Grand Hyatt hotel in March of this year.