Deputy public defender Todd Eddins, left, and Tayshea Aiwohi, along with Aiwohi's family and friends, met with the media yesterday outside a room at Circuit Court.

‘Ice’ baby’s mom
pleads not guilty

The defense says that the
Kaneohe woman has overcome
drugs since her child died

City Prosecutor Peter Carlisle defended the prosecution of a Kaneohe woman accused of causing the death of her 2-day-old baby by smoking crystal methamphetamine, or "ice."

"If a mother chooses between drugs and caring for their child properly, and they choose drugs and that choice leads to the death of a child, then that is a case neither society nor this office can turn a blind eye to," he said.

Tayshea Aiwohi pleaded not guilty yesterday to a charge of manslaughter for causing the death of her son Treyson, who was born July 15, 2001. She faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Aiwohi has posted $50,000 bail and will remain free until trial, tentatively set for Dec. 15.

Aiwohi's attorney, deputy public defender Todd Eddins, criticized the prosecution as "perverse, counterproductive and mean-spirited."

"In seeking to prosecute this woman for her prenatal behavior -- that is a perverse application of the law," he said.

Aiwohi was indicted Oct. 10 -- the first case in Hawaii in which a mother is charged for killing her baby by smoking methamphetamine while pregnant or breast-feeding.

Prosecutors allege she had been smoking methamphetamine in the days before giving birth at Kaiser Medical Center, and after leaving the hospital. The indictment alleges conduct from July 12 through July 17, 2001, when the baby died.

The medical examiner ruled Treyson died of the toxic effects of methamphetamine. Treyson had four times the minimum toxic level of methamphetamine for adults in his system at the time of the autopsy, according to first deputy medical examiner William W. Goodhue Jr. The drug could have been introduced either before or after birth, such as via breast milk, he said.

Under the prosecutor's theory, women who smoke cigarettes or don't ensure they have proper nutrition while pregnant can face being locked up for 20 years, Eddins said.

He said the prosecutor's actions will deter other pregnant drug users from seeking proper prenatal care or drug treatment.

Although the infant tested positive for methamphetamine in his system after birth, Aiwohi was allowed to nurse her baby and Child Protective Services "evaluated her situation, said she's a good mom and the baby should go home with her," Eddins said.

Since the death of her baby, Aiwohi has successfully fought a drug problem, Eddins said. She is working as a teacher's aide and at a drug treatment center. She and her husband are loving parents to five other children, he said.

Carlisle said his office took the evidence to a grand jury, which found sufficient evidence to proceed with a manslaughter charge.

The fact that Aiwohi may have cleaned up her act since then may mitigate what happened, but doesn't change the fact that her baby is dead, he said.


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