Sentenced to five years in prison at 17 years old

Gilo Akwai, 17, of Storm Lake was sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to a felony charge of possession of a firearm by a person who has been adjudicated delinquent for conduct that would constitute a felony if committed by an adult.

Akwai was prosecuted as an adult as the result of a waiver up to adult criminal court from juvenile court.

Juveniles can end up in adult court if the offenses are violent forcible felonies or if the particular defendant has a lengthy history in the juvenile court system.

Juvenile Judge Mary Timko granted the waiver to adult court based on his extensive history in juvenile court and the seriousness of this offense.

It was Akwai’s adjudication in juvenile court for first-degree burglary that prohibited him from possessing a firearm.

That adjudication was based upon an incident that occurred in Minnesota in which Akwai burglarized a home and threatened the homeowners with a knife.

The incident for which Akwai was sentenced on Monday arose from an incident in September of this year in BV County, where Akwai and other juveniles attempted to return to a party with a handgun after the juveniles had been in an altercation at the party.

Akwai plead guilty back in October to illegally possessing the gun in connection with that incident.

At the sentencing hearing Assistant Buena Vista County Attorney Matthew Speers argued for prison citing the seriousness of this crime, the defendant’s lengthy criminal history in juvenile court and failure to show any sign of rehabilitation in the juvenile court system.

Juvenile Court Officer Audra O’Neil also testified for the State telling the court that she supervised Akwai’s juvenile court probation for several years.

In her opinion he was a danger to the community and not likely to be rehabilitated.

The defendant was represented by attorney Andrew J. Smith who urged the court to order probation based on Akwai’s age.

Ultimately Senior District Judge John Duffy sided with the State and sentenced Akwai to prison for an indeterminate term not to exceed five years.

The court cited the defendant’s criminal history and multiple stays at in-patient treatment centers in juvenile court without any signs of rehabilitation.

The court also cited the fact that a weapon was used in this case and in some of the defendant’s previous crimes.

Akwai was also ordered to pay $750 in fines and surcharges associated with the offence, court costs, and sheriff’s fees for time spent in the Buena Vista County Jail and court appointed attorney’s fees.