A Mililani woman says the justice system failed her after the man accused of going on a shooting rampage with a BB gun was never prosecuted.
In 2009, Schofield soldier Daniel Womack was arrested and charged with assault and terroristic threatening.
But by the time he was scheduled to go on trial, it was five years later. So a judge dismissed the case because of how much time had passed.
How did this happen?
Francine Sapla says she was never told that the case had been dismissed, and that was two years ago. She reached out to us to get some answers.
Sapla was walking outside Walmart in Mililani when she felt the sting of the BB gun.
“There was blood coming down my hand and I looked around trying to make sense of what was going on and I couldn’t figure it out but I had called 911,” she recalled.
Doctors told her the pellet went in two inches deep so she needed surgery to get it out.
In a preliminary hearing, another Schofield soldier who was in the car with Womack that night testified in court that Womack shot two women, including Sapla.
“There was a woman walking down the street. He put the BB gun across me out the passenger side window and he shot the woman,” said Michael Danner in 2009, when he served as a witness for the prosecution.
After that hearing, Sapla waited patiently for justice.
“Nothing has been done. I haven’t been notified,” she said. “I’ve been trying to seek help as to what my rights are, and I don’t want it to happen to anybody else. Till this day, I am taking medication to help me cope with it.”
After calling the prosecutor’s office, the State Judiciary, and the Department of Public Safety, here’s what we’ve learned. Prosecutors tell us Womack did not appear at his next hearing so the State Judiciary issued a bench warrant for his arrest. That was in August 2009. Womack was not served that bench warrant until four years later in 2013.
Keith Kaneshiro took over as Honolulu prosecutor in 2010. A spokesman says they had to go through a stack of bench warrants, about 2,300, from the previous administration and by the time they got to this case, it was three years later in 2013.
The spokesman says Womack was in Florida when he was located. He was brought to Hawaii where, in 2014, a new trial was eventually scheduled.
In 2015, Womack’s attorney asked the judge to dismiss the case because of excessive delays with a bench warrant. The judge agreed and dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning Womack cannot be charged in this case again.
“It hits me really hard, because I have to live with this for the rest of my life, and knowing that this case is dismissed is just beyond me and my rights are being denied,” Sapla said.
When we asked why the bench warrant took so long to be served, we were told we had to ask the Public Safety department because deputy sheriffs would have been the one to serve the warrant. But a spokeswoman for DPS said they never received the bench warrant and to check with the courts.
So we did. The Judiciary said to check its online records, which were unavailable by the time we checked.
The spokesman for the prosecutor’s office told us that someone did contact Sapla after the case was dismissed, but there’s no record of what she was told.
Sapla insists no one has contacted her since 2014, which was well before the judge dismissed the case.