Teen sentenced to eight years for golf-club beating

Posted: Wednesday, March 26, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) An Anchorage teenager has been sentenced to eight years in prison for the golf-club beating of a 71-year-old man last summer.

Kise Afoula, 18, was sentenced Tuesday after pleading no contest in December to one count of armed robbery.

Afoula had no criminal record when the beating occurred in July on the soccer field at West High School.

Afoula, 17 at the time, reportedly wanted to steal victim Katsura Matsui's van, but he also repeated several times while hitting Matsui that he hated Japanese.'' That made the attack a hate crime deserving of more than the usual sentence, said prosecutor Jay Fayette. Armed robbery normally carries a seven-year sentence.

From the witness stand, speaking through an interpreter, Matsui said Tuesday he was hitting golf balls about 10:30 p.m. July 17 when Afoula engaged him in conversation for 20 to 30 minutes. It was mostly small talk, about family and how Afoula had a Japanese friend in Hawaii, he said.

Matsui had three golf clubs lying on the ground when he turned to watch a distant storm, he said. Suddenly he was hit hard from behind.

He turned as Afoula hit him again. According to Matsui, Afoula held him down while his 15-year-old girlfriend went through Matsui's pockets for his wallet and keys. The assailants drove away in Matsui's van, leaving him with a broken collar bone, nerve damage and bleeding profusely, Fayette said.

The girlfriend was arrested and charged as a juvenile.

Defense attorney Wally Tetlow said the assault was a serious lapse in judgment.'' Afoula confessed when picked up by troopers and has expressed remorse, Tetlow said.

On Tuesday, Afoula apologized to Matsui, to Matsui's family and to his own family, who were in the courtroom.

I wish I could take it back,'' Afoula said.

Superior Court Judge Larry Card agreed to label the attack a hate crime. He added a year to the normal sentence but said it was because of the seriousness of Matsui's injuries.

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