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University football hopeful waits for sentencing

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A young man who came to Montana from Honolulu, Hawaii, in hopes of playing linebacker for the University of Montana football team, admitted to his role in a pursuit with law enforcement last March. 

Caine Fitiausi-Fung, 19, entered a plea of guilty in Polson District Court on July 29 to felony criminal endangerment. He made his appearance via video from Hawaii.

According to court records, on March 4, Flathead Tribal Police Officer T. J. Haynes observed a Jeep traveling northbound on U. S. Highway 93 at 76 mph in a 45 mph zone through Ravalli. 

Haynes activated his lights and sirens to initiate a traffic stop. The driver of the Jeep didn’t stop and reached a speed of 115 mph, which put other motorists in danger. The Jeep traveled east onto Kicking Horse Road. At some point during the pursuit, Fitiausi-Fung is alleged to have damaged the mobile phone of a passenger. 

The Jeep continued to travel about a half mile before crashing into a ditch. The driver, later identified as Fitiausi-Fung, fled on foot. He lost a shoe when he ran into an electric fence. Haynes apprehended Fitiausi-Fung after deploying his taser. A preliminary breath test showed his blood-alcohol content at .102.

As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors agreed to dismiss, at sentencing, misdemeanor charges of fleeing or eluding a peace officer, criminal destruction of or tampering with a communications device and operation of a non-commercial vehicle with a blood alcohol content above .08.

District Judge James Manley set sentencing for Sept. 16. The plea agreement calls for sentencing being deferred for three years.


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