Crazy moped thief nearly kills cop!

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Crazy moped thief nearly kills cop!

Postby Micronaut » Wed Apr 12, 2006 8:33 pm

Officer's assailant receives life term

By Ken Kobayashi
Advertiser Courts Writer

Daniel Vesper III

Honolulu police officer Jeffrey Omai lives each day with pain from injuries he suffered when he was run over by a van in late 2004. He suffered multiple skull fractures and injuries to his spinal column, and he has recurring dreams of trying to evade the van.

But Omai says he holds no bitterness toward Daniel Vesper III, the van driver who was sentenced yesterday to the state's harshest sentence of life in prison without parole for trying to kill the officer.

"I think in time, once he gets the help he needs, he may come to realize what he did, and it'll just take time," Omai said yesterday.

In a case that underscores the dangers facing police officers, Vesper, 45, was sentenced to the mandatory life term by Circuit Judge Virginia Crandall for running over Omai in the parking lot at Honolulu Community College on Dec. 2, 2004.

Omai was one of seven officers trying to arrest Vesper on warrants related to stealing and damaging a car in Kalihi about two weeks earlier.

Crandall also sentenced Vesper to prison terms for crimes that include robbery, unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle, criminal property damage and possession of a crystal methamphetamine pipe. Those sentences will all run at the same time as the life term.

Vesper pleaded guilty to the other offenses that included stealing a van from a newspaper carrier, robbing a student of a moped and hitting the victim with a bat. Those offenses occurred on the day before and on the day Omai was run over.

But Vesper contested the attempted-murder charge. His defense was that he didn't intend to kill Omai and that he should be convicted of a lesser offense. The jury, however, convicted him of trying to murder Omai.

Vesper's lawyer Jeffrey Hawk said he plans to appeal the ruling. Vesper declined to make any statement in court yesterday.

Hawk said Vesper has been diagnosed as suffering from drug abuse and depression. Hawk said his client has admitted to marijuana use, but not crystal meth even though he was found with an ice pipe when he was arrested.

With police officers in the gallery to support him, Omai told the judge he went through a "terrible ordeal."

Omai was in a coma for several weeks. He suffered from brain swelling and other injuries that included a torn rotator cuff and a broken nose.

"What people don't know is how close I actually came to dying," the six-year police veteran said.

But he said he still wants to serve his community. He returned to his job in January.

"We understand the risks and we know that we might not make it to the end of the day," he said.

City Deputy Prosecutor Chris Van Marter later said he was pleased with both the verdict and the sentence.

Under state law, the governor will have the option of commuting Vesper's sentence to life with parole.

If granted, it will be up to the Hawai'i Paroling Authority to determine when he can be released on parole.

Reach Ken Kobayashi at kkobayashi@honoluluadvertiser.com.
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Micronaut
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