Saturday, December 4, 1999

Mother gets
20 years for ‘reckless
manslaughter’ of daughter

It's possible Jennifer Edwards
could be freed after 10 years if
her rehabilitation goes well

By Debra Barayuga


The Hawaii Paroling Authority has ordered Jennifer Edwards to serve 20 years in prison, after her reckless manslaughter conviction for failing to seek timely medical care for her 20-month-old daughter, Cedra.

But the board after 10 years will review Edwards' rehabilitation and reduce the minimum term if it feels she has made progress.

Deputy Prosecutor Lucianne Khalaf had asked that Edwards serve at least 18 years for letting her infant daughter suffer for three days before taking her to a hospital. The child was pronounced dead shortly after arriving.

The court had ordered Edwards to serve a mandatory minimum term of six years and eight months but the parole board was allowed to sentence her to a longer mandatory term.

Khalaf said she was "very satisfied" with the board's decision. It balanced many factors, including Edwards' attempt to minimize her role in her daughter's injuries, Khalaf said.

Edwards, 20, had blamed her boyfriend, Mika Mika Jr., for inflicting the injuries that led to Cedra's death.

Paroling Authority Chairman Al Beaver said what Edwards did or failed to do with her child "goes against the laws of nature."

At a Nov. 18 hearing, parole board member Lani Garcia sternly chastised Edwards for allowing her daughter to suffer so long before taking her to the hospital. Even if Edwards hadn't inflict the injuries, she was just as responsible for not standing between her daughter and whoever inflicted them, Garcia said.

The 20-year term was "appropriate" because of the "brutal and callous" way that Cedra died, Khalaf said. The infant died of an infection caused by a rupture in her small bowel from being kicked.

A hearing is scheduled later this month on an appeal of Edwards' sentence.

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