Carlisle critical of abuser's delayed sentence


POSTED: Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Prosecutor Peter Carlisle lashed out yesterday at a judge's decision to allow a woman convicted in a brutal child abuse case to remain free as she pursues an appeal in which she will argue that as a native Hawaiian she is above state laws.

Rita Makekau, 52, was expected to begin serving a five-year sentence yesterday for brutalizing her five nieces and nephews, but instead she remains free on $40,000 bond.

Circuit Judge Virginia Crandall granted Makekau's request yesterday to delay serving time pending the outcome of the appeal of her conviction filed with the state Supreme Court.

Makekau initially pleaded no contest to eight charges of assault and one of abuse.

However, she filed an appeal Nov. 28 in which she claims to be a foreign minister of a Hawaiian sovereignty organization and an heir to the Hawaiian Kingdom Government, and therefore is not subject to the state's laws.

Carlisle was incensed at the judge's decision.

“;The case law is incredibly explicit that the only time on an appeal that somebody should be released on bail is whether there is a meritorious claim,”; he said yesterday at a news conference. “;And no matter what you think about sovereignty, that is not a meritorious claim for somebody who has committed a crime under the laws of Hawaii.

“;This is a person who is alleged to have hammered the teeth of children,”; Carlisle said, adding that she fed them dog food from a dog bowl and forced them to live under the house, sharing quarters with vermin.

The three boys and two girls, now 10 to 18 years old, were 7 to 14 at the time of the abuse. The five are now in foster care with other relatives.

Makekau allegedly shoved a broomstick down their throats, held them underwater in the bathtub, pushed them down the stairs and held their hands over a hot stove.

Carlisle asked, “;Why are we delaying the inevitable?”;

The prosecutor has asked the judge to execute the sentencing.

Makekau was sentenced Nov. 21 to five years' imprisonment, but the judge stayed the sentencing pending the filing of an appeal, for which yesterday was the deadline.

The prosecutor in the case had asked the judge to sentence Makekau to 41 years, the maximum prison term for each of the charges, and to run them back to back.

The abuse dates back to 2004 and 2005 after the state awarded custody of her sister's children to Makekau's daughter and son-in-law, Barbara and Gabriel Kalama of Waianae.

The Kalamas received five years' probation but were to serve one year in jail as a condition of their probation. Crandall staggered their jail terms to keep their family together, as they have three children of their own.

Gabriel Kalama, 31, pleaded no contest to two counts of second-degree assault and five counts of abuse of a family or household member. Barbara Kalama, 29, pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a minor and six counts of abuse of a family or household member.

As part of the condition of Makekau's bail, she is to have no contact with children.

The judge allowed Randal Shintani to withdraw yesterday as Makekau's attorney. Shintani could not be reached for comment late yesterday.