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Saturday, June 24, 2000

Mother, doctors testify
in shaken-baby trial

By Rosemarie Bernardo


Samita Hall Sr. admitted to shaking his 6-week-old son, causing severe brain damage.

But his girlfriend Sophia Hunkin, 20, testified yesterday she told him: "You shouldn't admit to something you didn't do."

At Hall's Circuit Court trial, Hunkin said, "I know he's a very good father." Hall made the admission because he wanted to keep the family together, Hunkin said.

Hall, 22, is charged with second-degree attempted murder for allegedly causing brain damage in Samita by shaking him. If convicted, Hall Sr. faces a life sentence with the possibility of parole.

When Deputy Prosecutor Glenn Kim asked Hunkin if Hall Sr. ever hurt their son, she said, "Of course not.

"I've never seen any kind of violence around my kids."

On March 17, 1999, Hunkin said, she took her son, Samita Hall Jr., to a clinic because she said her son "acted differently."

Tests taken at Kapiolani Hospital showed the child suffered from cuts, bleeding and torn nerve tissues in his brain, said Dr. Cynthia Tinsley of the pediatric intensive care unit at the hospital.

The injuries sustained in the child's brain can only be caused by severe force, Tinsley said.

"This requires an extreme amount of force, enough force that any reasonable person would know that they would injure a baby," she said. "This requires a significant amount of shaking or motion to be done very forcefully to cause these injuries."

Tinsley said the child most likely suffered from shaken-baby syndrome.

Samita, now 16 months old, in the care of the defendant's brother and sister-in-law in Laie, has recovered but experiences weakness on his right side.

The trial is expected to last through next week.

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