An ad­vo­cate for ‘Peter Boy’

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive to de­ter­mine if there are grounds for a wrong­ful death civil suit

Hawaii Tribune Herald - - FRONT PAGE - By JOHN BURNETT

A spe­cial mas­ter will de­ter­mine if the es­tate of Peter Kema Jr., aka “Peter Boy,” has a claim for the years of abuse the child suf­fered be­fore he dis­ap­peared and was pre­sumed mur­dered at age 6 in 1997.

Hilo Fam­ily Court Judge Henry Nakamoto on Wed­nes­day ap­pointed Stephen W. Lane as a spe­cial mas­ter, with­out com­pen­sa­tion, to ascer­tain whether there are grounds for a wrong­ful death civil law­suit to be filed on be­half of Peter Boy’s es­tate and to re­tain coun­sel to rep­re­sent the es­tate.

“My charge from the court is to ex­am­ine the cir­cum­stances of Peter Kema’s (Jr.) life and dis­ap­pear­ance by gain­ing ac­cess to the records the state and oth­ers might have and then reach a con­clu­sion as to whether or not I think there are any … claims that arise from that re­view of those doc­u­ments,” Lane said Thurs­day. “I’ll file a re­port with the fam­ily court with re­spect to that and prob­a­bly make rec­om­men­da­tions.”

Lane is a pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tor, for­mer foster par­ent and court-ap­pointed guardian who does para­le­gal work in child ad­vo­cacy. He said the le­gal pro­to­col al­low­ing a spe­cial mas­ter to de­ter­mine tort li­a­bil­ity for chil­dren who are or were in foster care or wards of the state was es­tab­lished last year by Honolulu Cir­cuit Judge R. Mark Brown­ing.

“Bear in mind, wards of the state and foster chil­dren were

re­ally dis­en­fran­chised. They were frozen out,” Lane ex­plained. “They had no ac­cess to at­tor­neys be­cause of their mi­nor­ity sta­tus and be­cause of their ward sta­tus with the state. So this, I thought, was a sea change that Judge Brown­ing brought about by mak­ing it pos­si­ble for foster kids or wards of the state to get ac­cess to an at­tor­ney if they get hurt, like ev­ery­one else has.”

The or­der ap­point­ing Lane as spe­cial mas­ter is valid as long as there are civil or crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings, in­clud­ing ap­peals, re­gard­ing Peter Boy.

“I’ve been think­ing about this case for a long time,” Lane said. “And it wasn’t un­til the Big Is­land’s Pros­e­cut­ing At­tor­ney’s Of­fice was able to in­dict some­body and charge some­body with (Peter Boy’s) pre­sump­tive death, that it oc­curred to me that any­thing else could pos­si­bly be done.”

Nakamoto’s or­der re­quires the state De­part­ment of Hu­man Ser­vices and Child Wel­fare Ser­vices, for­merly Child Pro­tec­tive Ser­vices, “to pro­duce all records and files unredacted re­lated to Peter Kema Jr.” and his sib­lings. Lane also is em­pow­ered to subpoena doc­u­ments and records from in­di­vid­u­als and agen­cies re­lated to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

All doc­u­ments ob­tained for Lane’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion are to re­main con­fi­den­tial.

Peter Boy and his sib­lings, Chauntelle Acol, Al­lan Acol and Lina Acol, all were taken by CPS from Jaylin Kema, the chil­dren’s mother, and Peter Kema Sr., Peter Boy’s and Lina’s bi­o­log­i­cal fa­ther, af­ter re­peated ev­i­dence of abuse cropped up. All the chil­dren even­tu­ally were re­turned more than once to the Ke­mas, de­spite warn­ings they were un­fit par­ents. Peter Boy went miss­ing in 1997, al­though he was not re­ported miss­ing un­til the fol­low­ing year.

Kema Sr. told po­lice he took the boy to Honolulu and left him with an “Aunty Rose Makuakane.” Au­thor­i­ties didn’t be­lieve him and couldn’t find air­line records to cor­rob­o­rate his ac­count.

The boy’s body still hasn’t been found.

Peter Kema Sr. and Jaylin Kema were in­dicted for Peter Boy’s mur­der on April 28, 2016.

In a deal with pros­e­cu­tors, Jaylin Kema pleaded guilty Dec. 1 to man­slaugh­ter, tear­fully telling now re­tired Hilo Cir­cuit Judge Glenn Hara “I failed to pro­tect my son.”

Deputy Pros­e­cu­tor Rick Damerville told the judge a foren­sic pathol­o­gist will tes­tify Peter Boy’s death was prob­a­bly from sep­tic shock due to a fes­ter­ing wound on his arm caused by abuse from Kema Sr., and be­cause his par­ents — de­spite hav­ing med­i­cal in­sur­ance — didn’t pro­vide the boy timely med­i­cal at­ten­tion.

Jaylin Kema has agreed to tes­tify against her hus­band. Kema Sr.’s trial is sched­uled to start Jan. 23 be­fore Hilo Cir­cuit Judge Greg Naka­mura, but likely will be de­layed un­til April, Damerville said.

Ac­cord­ing to Lane’s pe­ti­tion for ap­point­ment, Peter Boy hasn’t been legally de­clared dead, which is a civil mat­ter. His es­tate hasn’t been es­tab­lished and a rep­re­sen­ta­tive hadn’t pre­vi­ously been ap­pointed “to rep­re­sent (Peter Boy’s) in­ter­ests re­lat­ing to his dis­ap­pear­ance and/or death.” The fil­ing states Peter Boy’s sib­lings were re­ferred to Lane and they sought his ap­point­ment.

Lane said he’ll “wait for the out­come of the crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings, in def­er­ence to” Hawaii County Pros­e­cu­tor Mitch Roth.

“The case is al­ready on­go­ing and I don’t want to do any­thing that will cause prej­u­dice or de­lay … and wait for the out­come … be­fore mak­ing any rec­om­men­da­tions to the court or oth­ers as to what claims there may be of a civil na­ture,” he said.

Lane added he won’t be able to de­ter­mine who might be de­fen­dants in a wrong­ful death civil law­suit un­til he’s ex­am­ined the records.

“For ex­am­ple, in past cases in which I’ve been in­volved, there have been other pub­lic or pri­vate agen­cies that have been in­volved in de­ci­sions made by CPS who’ve turned out to be prospec­tive de­fen­dants. So, I don’t want to pre­judge that un­til I’ve had a chance to see all the records,” he said.

The best pos­si­ble out­come of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Lane said, would be “jus­tice for this poor child.”

“What’s unique about this case is this is a child whose been miss­ing for nearly 20 years, who, by all ac­counts, es­pe­cially by the (redacted) records re­leased by (for­mer state De­part­ment of Hu­man Ser­vices direc­tor) Lillian Koller … was tor­tured al­most ev­ery day of his life,” he said. “… And the state kept send­ing him back again and again to a fam­ily that was demon­stra­bly un­fit and vi­o­lent, in my opin­ion.”


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