Mom gets 8 years for killing infant


POSTED: Wednesday, October 15, 2008

HILO » A Kona woman who killed her 4-month-old son with a knife in 2005 when she was 16, nearly cutting the child's head off, has been resentenced to a maximum of eight years in prison by Kona Circuit Judge Elizabeth Strance.

Strance resentenced Julia Aline Lewis, now 19, for the death of her son, Sebastian Kossak, because Lewis failed to get mental health treatment at a locked psychiatric facility until she was 21 - required by her first sentence for manslaughter in 2006. She also had been sentenced to a year in prison.

Deputy Prosecutor Linda Walton said Lewis “;sabotaged”; her placement in an out-of-state facility, and other out-of-state facilities refused to accept her.

Except for a brief period in Kahi Mohala psychiatric hospital, Lewis has been held in the Hawaii Community Correctional Center in Hilo.

Lewis and her mother, Sharon Lewis, moved to Kona from California shortly before the killing and lived in a house bought by the mother. The father of the child, Rafe Kossak of California, did not live with them.

In a June 7, 2007, letter to Strance, Don Cleland of the Sylmar Health and Rehabilitation Center in California described meeting Lewis.

“;Ms. Lewis talked about behaviors and symptoms that predated her arrest and suggested psychopathology prior to her offense,”; Cleland wrote to Strance.

At Sylmar, Lewis would have been in a facility that included nonviolent male sexual offenders, but Sharon Lewis objected.

“;It is unfortunate that we are unwilling to accept Ms. Lewis into treatment, not due to her behaviors or condition, rather the interference that her mother presents,”; Cleland wrote.

Sharon Lewis could not be reached for comment. Julia Lewis' attorney, Peter Bresciani, declined to comment.

In court, Bresciani argued that Po'ailani treatment center would be appropriate for Julia Lewis, but Strance rejected the idea because Po'ailani is not a locked facility.

Strance could have resentenced Lewis to 20 years in prison, but instead set the maximum at eight years because Lewis was a youthful offender. The Hawaii Paroling Authority will set a minimum sentence.