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Tuesday, July 20, 2004



Mom avoids jail
in murder attempt

A Palolo woman admits
to trying to drown her son


A Palolo woman who pleaded guilty to attempted manslaughter for trying to drown her 9-year-old son was sentenced yesterday to 10 years' probation and one year in jail, subject to early release.


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Marlene Mexia: She will undergo a treatment plan that could lead to her reuniting with her son


But Marlene Mexia, 46, was able to avoid jail altogether by agreeing to a psychiatric treatment plan drawn up by her treating physician at the Hawaii State Hospital.

Under the agreement, Mexia must comply with the treatment plan until she is clinically discharged. Mexia, who suffers from mental illness, including bipolar disorder, cannot have contact with her son, now 10, without the approval of Adult Probation and the court.

"We don't want the risk of a reoccurrence of this kind of behavior by the defendant," said deputy prosecutor Dan Oyasato, who noted they still have no idea why Mexia tried to kill her son.

Mexia allegedly called 911 on July 23, 2003, saying she had drowned her son. She calmly told officers responding to the call that her son was dead and was upstairs in the bathtub.

Defense attorney Victor Bakke said Mexia has a history of mental illness.

Mexia did not address the court yesterday, but submitted a letter in which she acknowledged she has mental health issues that she must deal with for the rest of her life, Bakke said.

She also noted in her letter that "she thought by killing her son, she was doing him a favor."

Mexia was facing a life term with parole had she gone to trial and been convicted of second-degree attempted murder. By pleading guilty to the lesser charge, the defense avoided going to trial, having her son testify, and assured Mexia of probation and continued treatment for her illness, Bakke said.

If the treatment plan goes well, Mexia could be released from the State Hospital in six to eight months but likely will be placed in some type of transitional housing until she can be eventually reunited with her husband and son, Bakke said.

The boy, who is reportedly doing fine physically and mentally, has been living in his Palolo home after Child Protective Services investigated and released him back to his father's care, Bakke said.

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