Judge sentences Big Island man to 10 years for carjacking, assault, probation violation

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HILO, Hawaii — The Big Island man whose carjacking set off a morning rush-hour manhunt last year in Hilo has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Jeremy Todd Rios, 33, was sentenced Tuesday by Hilo Circuit Court Judge Glenn Hara to five years on charges that included carjacking and assault, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald (http://bit.ly/1qJe6Az) reported.

He was given five more years for violating probation. The sentences will run consecutively.

Rios pleaded guilty in July to felony assault, terroristic threatening, unauthorized entry to a motor vehicle, auto theft, leaving the scene of an accident, reckless driving, resisting an order to stop, driving with a suspended license and theft.

Prosecutors said Rios on July 30, 2013, knocked a 55-year-old man down with a head butt, kicked him and told him, "I'll be back to finish you off," as he left. The man suffered a broken rib and nose.

A short time later at 7:40 a.m., police took calls of a man brandishing a gun from a car.

As police gave chase, the car struck a pickup. According to prosecutors, Rios exited, climbed into the passenger seat of a car stopped because of the crash, and told the driver, "They're trying to kill me."

The driver bolted and Rios drove off in her car. He ditched it near the Mauna Kea Visitors Center. Police searched for Rios on foot and by helicopter, and he was arrested about 6:30 p.m. when he emerged from a field.

Defense attorney Stanton Oshiro said Rios needs to be treated simultaneously for mental illness and substance abuse. Rios was motivated by fear, he said, and was not trying to hurt anyone.

"He, basically, was afraid the police were trying to kill him," Oshiro said.

Deputy Prosecutor Shannon Kagawa cited Rios' long criminal record and history of violence. He had the opportunity to stop but did not, she said.

"This wasn't a simple, one-time incident. It was basically, like, a crime spree," she said.

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