Tuesday, May 14, 2002

Darren Kawaa took the stand in his own defense during his trial yesterday.

Murder defendant
says baby bumped
head only slightly

By Leila Fujimori

A 22-year-old man has denied in his murder trial that he slammed his 3-week-old daughter's head hard, causing her death.

Darren Kawaa told jurors he was trying to put Angel Saludares to sleep by carrying the baby around their Pearl City apartment on April 14, 2000. While entering a bedroom, the baby had a minor bump, "just nipped her head," causing her to cry a little, Kawaa said yesterday.

But according to a police affidavit, Kawaa told detectives the baby's head hit the door hard, and he squeezed her sides as he placed her in bed, but did not think it caused her death.

The medical examiner testified earlier in the trial that the 7-pound baby was squeezed, fracturing most of her ribs, then slammed onto a hard surface, causing her to die of massive head injuries, Deputy Prosecutor Glenn Kim said.

Angel died hours before she was taken to Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children in the early morning hours of April 15, 2000.

Kawaa, also known as Darren Silva, is on trial in Circuit Court on a charge of second-degree murder.

When his lawyer, Chester Kanai, asked if he squeezed the baby or slammed her down, he replied, "I would never do such a thing like that."

Instead, Kawaa said, when he was awakened the next morning by Saludares to learn his daughter was not breathing, he was the one who administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Kawaa also told jurors he suctioned out the blood and mucous from the baby's nose.

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