21-year-old Sierra Burns has been charged in connection with a deadly hit-and-run in Makaha. Burns faces two counts of negligent homicide in the first degree, two counts of accidents causing death, and one count of accident involving bodily injury. She remains in custody at Oahu Community Correctional Center, in lieu of $750,000 bail.
21-year-old Jonah Ragsdale and 23-year-old Daniel Mole were fixing a truck on the side of Farrington Highway, on Monday, February 19th, when witnesses say a white Volkswagen Passat hit them and took off. Ragsdale died at the scene. Mole later died at the hospital.
Police found the car half an hour later on Lahilahi Street in Nanakuli. Burns was found inside the Passat, which is registered in her name. Her attorney says she was "asleep" in the backseat at the time, and adds that she fully cooperated with police.
Days later, Burns was arrested at her home in Nanakuli. According to the city prosecutor's office, she was charged through a process called "information charging." -- which enables cases to be charged using information/evidence that is obtained and handed over to a judge.
"This particular case was pursued with 'an information', which now allows it to go to a judge to make a decision based on affidavits.. on other evidence.. and it spares the victims and witnesses to actually have to show up and testify," Carlisle said.
Former city prosecutor, Peter Carlisle says the process has been used for several years, and is another option for law enforcement, that at times can prove to be much more thorough.
Burns also had a previous drunken driving case dropped due to court congestion. The DUI happened back in 2016, meaning at the time Burns was under the legal drinking age.
"This shows a very poor management of such type of cases.. they should not sit around collecting dust.. and they should proceed to trial if there is sufficient evidence to prove the case," Carlisle added.
"It's hard to put the blame on anyone, other than the obviously the offender.. your talking about the police, the courts.. it's hard to place the blame. There is not enough money to go around for the Judiciary," said Arkie Koehl with Mother's Against Drunk Driving (MADD). "But on the plus side, they have opened another court house for DUI trials."
Koehl says more still needs to be done to punish and keep them DUI offenders off the road.
"We at MADD are appalled at this," Koehl added. "It is particularly painful on top of all the other tragedies in the same area."
Burns is scheduled to appear in court on March 5th.
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