No bail for Higa, judge orders
The suspect in the death of Cyrus Belt did not seek release
Matthew Higa was suffering from a mental illness when police say he tossed a 23-month-old toddler off a pedestrian overpass onto the H-1 freeway, his lawyer said yesterday.
Attorney Randy Oyama made those comments after Circuit Judge Dexter Del Rosario ordered Higa held in custody without the opportunity for bail pending his trial for second-degree murder. The trial date is March 31.
Higa's bail had been $1 million. Oyama told Del Rosario his client was not trying to gain release on bail and was not opposed to the prosecutor's request to revoke bail.
Oyama said Higa had voluntarily gone to the Queen's Medical Center's psychiatric ward at least twice.
The first time was because of an unspecified incident at a car dealership. For the second, on or about Dec. 11, family members took him there because his behavior did not seem normal to them.
In the first case, he said, the diagnosis was that Higa's behavior was due to drug use. Oyama said he is not sure of the second diagnosis. In each case, he said hospital officials released Higa soon after he was admitted.
"My understanding is he's never actually been really treated by any mental health care professionals," he said.
Oyama said evidence of Higa's mental disease goes back to when he was involved in a car crash in 2004. His friend Andrew Ae Hansen, 20, died Aug. 20, 2004, five days after his car crashed on the H-1 freeway near the Alexander Street onramp.
Police said it was the result of two or more cars racing on the freeway.
"That was a big thing for him, because I think he withdrew after that. He basically cut off his phone, quit school, quit seeing people," Oyama said.
He said he has talked to friends and neighbors who said they noticed a drastic change in Higa's behavior after the crash.
"I think that's probably at the point that he probably got into substance abuse and things like that, because I understand that reduced resistance to substance abuse is one of the symptoms of some kind of traumatic mental disease and mental defect," he said.
Oyama said the next step in preparing for Higa's defense is to ask the court to appoint a panel of experts to examine his client.
Higa is accused of killing Cyrus Belt Jan. 17 by throwing the toddler off the Miller Street pedestrian overpass onto the H-1 freeway.