Aki tells mother
he is taking fall
to protect family

A letter from the Indreginal
slaying suspect is made public

The accused killer of 11-year-old Kahealani Indreginal wrote that he is taking the blame for a crime he did not commit in order to protect his family.

In a handwritten two-page letter dated Jan. 18 to his mother, Patricia Aki, Christopher Clayburn Aki beseeched her to understand why he cannot disclose everything he knows about Kahealani's death until his trial.

"I have a very good reason why I had to take the rap and blame myself of the crime that was done," he wrote. "If I didn't, I know I and my family most likely wouldn't (be) here also. So I had no choice but to follow along with what I was told to do."

He did not give further details on what he was told and by whom.

City Prosecutor Peter Carlisle quoted from the letter at a pretrial hearing Thursday. Carlisle argued that Aki appears to be relying on an alibi defense and that the defense should disclose the names of the person or people whom Aki says killed Kahealani.

Circuit Judge Victoria Marks denied the state's request, saying Aki would be required only to turn over names of witnesses the defense plans to call to the stand.

Aki, 20, of Kalihi, is charged with second-degree murder for either causing Kahealani's death or by failing to obtain necessary medical care for her. He has pleaded not guilty and is set for trial the week of Sept. 15.

The letter, which was accepted into evidence by the court and obtained yesterday from court files, is the first time Aki has publicly admitted any knowledge of the girl's death.

Aki is the boyfriend of Kahealani's older half sister, Tanya Mamala-Tumbaga, with whom he has a 1-year-old son, Ezra.

In January, Child Protective Services took Ezra into protective custody for about a week. Sources close to the case at the time said that a threat had been made against the child's life by a person who may have been involved in Kahealani's killing.

Aki referred to his son's removal in the letter, writing that "I felt they were in trouble."

Kahealani, a sixth-grader at Aiea Elementary, disappeared Dec. 10 from the Puuwai Momi housing project in Makalapa where she lived. Witnesses told police they last saw her alive leaving the complex with Aki, who had known her since she was a baby. Kahealani's body was discovered three days later by a hiker in a wooded area off Aiea Loop Trail. She had died of neck and head wounds.

Aki initially told police that two other men he was with at the park killed Kahealani. He later recanted and accepted full responsibility for her death, police said.

Police said Aki allegedly admitted to beating Kahealani with a metal pipe after he got angry with her.

In his letter, Aki said there were other men involved but does not name them, and alluded to being beaten by them and held at gunpoint.

"I had not hit her or touched her once. There was no pipe involved," Aki wrote.

Aki told his mother he was sorry she had to live with the shame that everyone believes he killed Kahealani. "But there's no greater pain than knowing your (sic) innocent and all what you have including family, friends, dignity and freedom has been stripped for (sic) your bare hands," he wrote.

He then mentions John the Baptist and Jesus, both of whom were persecuted for their beliefs. "For what, Mom, they were innocent. They were just trying to save the ones they truly love."

Tumbaga-Mamala could not be reached to comment. Lehua Tumbaga, Kahealani's mother, declined to comment on Aki's statements.

Star-Bulletin reporter Sally Apgar contributed to this story.


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