Injured girl's sitter is indicted
Attempted murder tops the charges for a Big Island woman
HILO » A Hilo grand jury has indicted Hyacinth Poouahi, the caretaker for the 10-year-old girl named Alexis found with rotting flesh in February, for attempted murder by omission and other offenses in relation to wounds and injuries found on the girl.
Poouahi was not immediately arrested for yesterday's indictment, police said, but bail for her was set by the court at $25,000 when an arrest does take place.
Poouahi was also indicted for kidnapping, assault, terroristic threatening and endangering the welfare of a minor in the case.
The case of Alexis came to light when Poouahi called 911 on Feb. 7 saying the child needed medical attention. Hawaii County Fire Department paramedics arriving at the home of Poouahi and her husband, Jaime Soares, in the Ainaloa subdivision south of Hilo found the girl lying on a concrete patio outside the house.
A paramedic described a strong smell of rotting flesh. The girl had a wound in her head which had objects in it that seemed to be fly eggs.
Part of her upper lip was missing. She had puncture wounds in her cheeks, as well as other wounds on her hands and feet.
The girl was taken to Kapiolani Medical Center, where she remained in a coma for six weeks. The state Department of Human Services took legal custody of the child.
Besides the injuries observed by paramedics, a police affidavit said the girl had apparent burn marks on her skin, and there were marks indicating that she had been tied up.
Poouahi told a story of attempting to care for the girl as best she could, despite the girl being self-destructive, allegedly trying to commit suicide twice and digging at minor wounds to make them worse.
Poouahi said the girl's mother, Chrystal Yamamoto, began leaving the child with her for normal baby-sitting about three years earlier. The child has a different last name from her mother, and the Star-Bulletin has not used the name.
In November 2004, Yamamoto left Alexis with Poouahi permanently, allegedly saying, "This kid is driving me crazy," Poouahi told the Star-Bulletin.
Poouahi said the child had been diagnosed with two mental disorders, hyperactivity and oppositional defiant disorder. She said she was aware of the child's suicide attempts because of apparent slash marks on the girl's wrists.
Poouahi said she has five children of her own and never hurt the children. "All I tried to do was love this child. I would never hurt any child," she said.
A neighbor, Porsche Miller, said Alexis played with Miller's daughter at times, and Miller was aware of Alexis' injuries, although not how bad they were.
She described Poouahi's son from a previous marriage as an extreme disciplinary problem. She said her daughter told her Alexis was hit by other children in the Poouahi house, including the son, who slammed Alexis against a wall and kicked her.