Kauai man sentenced to prison in DUI homicide case

A Kilauea man was sentenced to prison Thursday for charges arising out of a 2014 drunk driving crash that killed one man.

James Monroe, 54, was sentenced to serve 10 years in prison.

A police investigation revealed that on March 4, 2014, Monroe was driving his F-350 pickup truck northbound on Kuhio Highway near Wailapa Road when he crossed the center line, sideswiping one vehicle and causing a head-on collision with a second vehicle.

The operator of the first vehicle, Cathy Farley, sustained minor injuries. The second vehicle was operated by Sam Mitzel, 28, of Kīlauea, who died at the scene. His passenger was his father, Keith Mitzel, who suffered life-threatening injuries requiring emergency transport to Queen’s Medical Center.

A blood draw revealed that Monroe’s blood alcohol level was .324 at the time of the crash, nearly four times the legal limit.

Monroe was later indicted for nine charges, including manslaughter, and earlier this year entered no contest pleas to charges of Negligent Homicide in the First Degree (a class B felony), Negligent Injury in the First Degree (a class C felony), Assault in the Third Degree (a misdemeanor), and Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence of an Intoxicant (a petty misdemeanor).

Although defense counsel sought a probation sentence, Judge Randal G.B. Valenciano imposed the prison sentence requested by the State.

Keith Mitzel addressed the Court prior to sentencing, as did Sam’s mother. Both spoke of the pain their family suffered as a result of the defendant’s action.

In addition to spending 10 years in prison, Monroe was ordered to pay more than $122,000 in restitution to his victims and to reimburse the Kauai Police Department for the cost of the blood draw. Monroe’s driver license was also revoked.

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