Mother ordered to hospital


POSTED: Saturday, June 06, 2009

Elly Rivera was found not guilty of attempted murder by reason of insanity yesterday of choking her 4-year-old daughter into unconsciousness last year.

;[Preview]    Mother Acquitted Because of Mental Illness

Elly Rivera has been committed to the State Hospital after choking her 3-year-old daughter into unconsciousness.

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Rivera had said voices told her they were going to burn her family, and she needed to kill her children painlessly to preserve their souls.

“;I'm just glad, seriously, that it was the mental illness, because I can't imagine a biological mother doing this knowingly. That would be so spooky,”; said Jeen Kwak, deputy city prosecutor.

Rivera told a court-appointed psychiatrist she choked her daughter Hailey because of the threats from voices.

She has a history of treatment for mental illness here and on the mainland. She said she stopped taking her medication because of their side effects, including weight gain, and because she had “;faith that God alone would save me.”;

After finding her not guilty of attempted murder, Circuit Judge Patrick Border ordered Rivera, 27, to remain in the Hawaii State Hospital for further treatment but allowed visits with her daughter under the supervision of her husband and hospital staff.

“;The defendant's treatment team at the State Hospital recommended it. I expect they know her condition and what would help her. More importantly, they thought it would help Hailey as well,”; Kwak said.

Border ordered Rivera to the State Hospital last summer after a panel of mental health experts found her not mentally fit to stand trial.

When a city ambulance crew went to the Riveras' military quarters at Hickam Air Force Base on Feb. 24, 2008, paramedics found her daughter breathing quickly in short breaths with occasional convulsions. Her face was red, and her lips were dry and pale. She went to Kaiser Medical center in critical condition.

Rivera's husband called for the ambulance after the son told him Rivera tried to choke his sister.

Kwak said Hailey is doing well, and doctors report no sign so far of any long-term effect from what happened to her.

After Border rendered his verdict, Rivera asked him to grant her supervised visits away from the State Hospital.

He said he first wants a panel of mental health experts to examine Rivera and make its recommendation. The experts are to report back by the end of August.