Soldier on trial for luring child for sex

Trial opens for National Guard member accused of trying to lure child for sex

Posted: Feb 18, 2010 2:54 PM Updated: Feb 18, 2010 9:02 PM

By Minna Sugimoto

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Trial is underway for a Hawaii Air National Guard member accused of using the Internet to solicit a child for sex.

Matthew Lewis, 34, is charged with electronic enticement. If convicted, he faces a mandatory 10-year prison term.

It’s been rare for Hawaii jurors to hear this type of case. In the past, many electronic enticement suspects pleaded guilty. But after the legislature created a stiffer punishment for the crime, more and more cases are going to trial.

Detective Sandi Fujitani’s job is to take down child predators on the Internet. She says she was posing as a 14-year-old girl online, and met Matthew Lewis who was using the screen name ML808.

According to the transcripts in evidence:

ML808: “What kind of underwear would you be wearing?”

Undercover officer: “You want me to wear a thong? I have one.”

ML808: “Ok, what color?”

With the help of a representative from the Attorney General’s office, Fujitani read transcripts of the online conversations she says she had with Lewis. The Hawaii Air National Guard member is accused of soliciting sex from the child.

Undercover officer: “Can we go slowly?”

ML808: “Up to you.”

Undercover officer: “Yeah, I guess I’m kind of scared, nervous.”

Undercover officer: “How do I know you’re not going to hurt me?”

ML808: “I won’t. I just want to have fun.”

Prosecutors say the undercover officer repeatedly told Lewis that she was 14 years old.

ML808: “For a 14-year-old, your typing and grammar are good.”

Undercover officer: “Hello? LOL. What you think, private school.”

Officers arrested the suspect at his mother’s karate school at the Chinatown Cultural Plaza in October 2008. Several days earlier, they say he drove from his Waipahu home to the Zippy’s Restaurant in McCully to meet the girl in person.

“At the time of this meeting, had you ever seen ML808’s face during any of the chats?” Albert Cook, deputy attorney general, asked.

“No, I didn’t,” Fujitani replied.

The defense argues that Lewis never intended to hook up with an underage person for sex. Attorney Harrison Kiehm says his client drove into the Zippy’s parking lot, but quickly left without ever getting out of his car.

“Circled the whole lot, to the rear of Zippy’s, back up the side, went towards the front again, slowly drove past the front of Zippy’s, and then exited,” Fujitani described.

The 34-year-old is expected to testify in his own defense on Friday.

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