Big Island child's caretaker pleads not guilty
The woman in charge of a girl found severely abused will go to trial
HILO » A Big Island woman pleaded not guilty yesterday to all charges against her in connection with severe injuries suffered by a 10-year-old girl in her care earlier this year.
Hyacinth Poouahi is charged with attempted murder by omission, endangering the welfare of a minor, assault, kidnapping and terroristic threatening.
Big Island Circuit Judge Glenn Hara set trial for May 15. However, the court will be closed the month of June, so the time in May probably will be used for jury selection only. Presentation of the case will probably occur in July.
Attempted murder suspect Hyacinth Poouahi stood with her attorney, Keith Shigetomi, yesterday during her arraignment in Hilo Circuit Court.
Regarding that possible month-long separation between jury selection and trial, Deputy Prosecutor Rick Damerville said there is "a strong probability that that schedule may change."
He said it is not a good idea in a case where there is so much news media attention to select a jury and leave it without supervision for a month.
Damerville said Alexis, the child Poouahi is accused of abusing, is being cared for on Oahu, and "she's improving daily."
Poouahi, 38, was indicted last week in connection with injuries -- including rotting flesh -- found on Alexis when Poouahi called 911 for medical help Feb. 7. The girl was in a coma for six weeks after her rescue.
Alexis began living with Poouahi when the girl's mother, Chrystal Yamamoto, left her at Poouahi's house in November 2004.
In a Feb. 10 affidavit, police Sgt. Juergen Canda said Poouahi's daughter Aulii, 15, told him that Poouahi; her husband, Jaime Soares; and her son Hans, 13, all abused Alexis, with injuries becoming especially bad about 10 days before the 911 call.
Damerville and police have said that additional defendants could be indicted.
Ronnie Cabanting, Alexis' natural father, and his parents attended today's arraignment. He said he wanted make a statement but could not because of a gag order imposed by Family Court.
Poouahi is represented by Honolulu attorney Keith Shigetomi, who left court today without commenting to the assembled media.
Poouahi is being held in lieu of $25,000 bail and was expected to be returned to Hawaii Community Correctional Center in Hilo.