Former Juneau-Douglas High School football star Joshua Lehauli, 20, pleaded guilty Thursday to a felony drug charge and drunken driving in a deal that sends the former fullback to prison for at least two years.
Lehauli faced up to 10 years in prison had he gone to trial for importing $4,000 worth of cocaine as originally charged in May.
Juneau Superior Court Patricia Collins told Lehauli she couldn't say if he would fare better in a jury trial or with the plea bargain offered by the Juneau District Attorney's Office.
Lehauli's recent trouble began with a May 3 arrest on a charge of driving while intoxicated. Two days later, Lehauli failed to appear in court. On May 13, Juneau police snatched up Lehauli upon his return from the lower 48 states with one ounce of cocaine in his pocket. Police said they received a tip Lehauli was out of town, which violated a probation requirement stemming from a previous conviction.
Once ranked number one in the state, the former defenseman's record includes violence going back to 2005 when he intentionally opened the door of a moving car knocking a pedestrian into a ditch; he was also convicted of punching a woman in the head, twice, in 2006.
Public Defender Kevin Higgins' first words to his client Thursday were, "Nice shoes." Lehauli strolled into court wearing classic Air Jordans with black suede and yellow leather to match his felony prison garb.
The young man, who JDHS football coach William Chalmers said possessed a "very big ego," quietly pleaded guilty as Collins read off the charges.
The state's deal sentences Lehauli to five years and three months with three years and two months suspended. Included in the deal is a $3,000 fine with half suspended.
He can further reduce the sentence by a third with "good time" credit, said Collins.
Following a pre-sentence investigation and report, Lehauli's formal sentencing is set for September.
Contact reporter Greg Skinner at 523-2258 or firstname.lastname@example.org