Man sentenced for causing son's death
A Makiki man who admitted to placing his 3 1/2-month-old son face down on a comforter and leaving him to cry after covering him with throw pillows and a folded comforter was sentenced yesterday to 20 years in prison for causing the baby's death.
Lionel Letoto, 51, was initially charged with second-degree murder in the Nov. 5, 2005, death of Noah Williams at their Pensacola Street apartment.
But under a plea agreement, Letoto pleaded guilty in January to the lesser charge of reckless manslaughter, in exchange for agreeing to serve a 20-year term.
Letoto admitted he had covered the baby up on several prior occasions with no problems, said deputy prosecutor Rom Trader. But Letoto took a nap after covering the infant and by the time the baby's mother arrived home from work that evening, the infant was already dead.
"He made bad choices and that little boy ended up paying with his life," Trader said.
The medical examiner determined the baby died of asphyxia due to suffocation by pillow and comforter.
After considering the facts and circumstances, the uncertainties of trial, the fact that it was Letoto's own son and that he had engaged in similar conduct before, Trader said they felt the plea agreement resolved the case appropriately while allowing Letoto to take responsibility for his conduct and receive a stiff punishment.
It also spared the baby's family the anguish of having to go through a trial, Trader said.
Letoto did not speak at his sentencing. His public defender could not be reached for comment.