Mother of Hawaii boy missing for 20 years released from jail
HONOLULU (AP) — The mother of a Hawaii boy who disappeared 20 years ago was released from jail Thursday after pleading guilty to manslaughter in the 6-year-old's death.
A judge granted supervised release for Jaylin Kema, who has served a year in jail. She was allowed to leave the Hawaii Community Correctional Center soon after returning from a court hearing, said state Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Toni Schwartz.
She pleaded guilty last year in what was the first official confirmation that her son, known as "Peter Boy," was dead and agreed to testify against her husband, Peter Kema Sr., if he went to trial.
He pleaded guilty to manslaughter earlier this month.
As part of a plea deal, prosecutors will seek a sentence of 20 years in prison if he provides information about the location of the boy's remains. On Sunday, he led police and prosecutors to a site in the Big Island's rural Puna district where he says he dumped the remains, Hawaii County Prosecuting Attorney Mitch Roth said.
When the mother pleaded guilty in December, she agreed to facts prosecutors laid out in court about abuse suffered by the boy, her failure to get him medical treatment and his eventual death.
Prosecutors believe the boy died from septic shock from not getting medical care for an arm injury.
Despite having health insurance, his mother did not get her son medical treatment and did not report the abuse because she was afraid of her husband, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Rick Damerville said after her plea hearing.
She is scheduled to be sentenced on June 13. Her plea agreement calls for 10 years of probation and the year she has already served in jail. Her release before sentencing is contingent on her undergoing drug testing, not leaving the Big Island and having no contact with her children, Damerville said.
She plans to return to the Puna home where she lived when she was arrested on welfare fraud charges, said her court-appointed attorney, Brian De Lima. The Kemas were separated at the time, he said.
The Kemas have long been suspects in the disappearance of Peter Boy. But prosecutors said they did not have enough evidence to charge them until last year when a grand jury indicted them on murder charges.
Keeping them apart during their incarceration was key to the case because prosecuting them without a body would be difficult, Roth said.
If Peter Boy's remains cannot be recovered, his father must take a polygraph test to show he is being truthful about the location, Roth said. He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 9.