POSTED: Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Woman facing slaying charge

An Oahu grand jury returned an indictment yesterday charging a 26-year-old woman with murder in the death of her 7-week-old nephew.

The indictment charges Natalee K. Westbrook with second-degree murder in the May 10 death of her sister's son, Maika Lawelawe-Westbrook. She is free on $150,000 bail.

Westbrook told police she and her nephew fell asleep on her couch with the boy on her lap. She said she put the boy on the edge of the sofa when she woke up to go to the bathroom. When she returned, she told police she found her nephew lying face down on the floor and not breathing. Westbrook told a neighbor what happened. The neighbor called 911.

Deputy Prosecutor Vickie Kapp said, “;An autopsy discovered acute and severe brain injuries which caused the infant's death and which were inconsistent with falling off from a 16-inch-high sofa edge.”;

Some AT&T wireless phones crash

Some AT&T customers in Hawaii were unable to use their wireless phones for calls or to connect to the Internet yesterday because of an equipment problem.

AT&T spokeswoman Courtney Pendleton said technicians were “;making progress”; last night in restoring service. She said customers were affected in different ways, depending on the type of phone used. Phone service for some customers was not affected, and other customers had intermittent service.

Pendleton said more details on when the outage started, what caused it and how many customers were affected might be available after service is restored.

“;We apologize for any inconvenience to our customers,”; she said.

The last time AT&T wireless had a widespread service disruption was in November, when Oahu customers lost service for a little more than seven hours after an electrical power failure in Leeward and Central Oahu.

Kilauea lava stops flowing into ocean

Lava has stopped flowing into the ocean from Kilauea volcano, according to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

Surface lava flows from the 2007 Thanksgiving Eve Breakout, which had been going into the ocean, dwindled to nothing, according to Big Island Civil Defense officials.

No lava or glow has been visible from the Halemaumau overlook at Kilauea since July 4, but sulfur dioxide emissions have spiked.

On Monday the emissions rate was 1,100 metric tons per day, compared with recent rates of 200 to 400 metric tons per day, the observatory reported.

The plume from the vent, however, continues to be wispy and move low to the ground toward the southwest.

Small amounts of ash-size rock dust continue to be carried with gases out of the vent.

Courts move Puna cases

The state Judiciary will save $20,000 per year by moving cases from Puna District Court to Hale Kaulike, the recently opened state court complex in Hilo, according to a news release.

The new complex opened March 30 at 777 Kilauea St. and has enough space to bring cases scheduled for Puna into Hilo.

“;Consolidating the cases makes more than just economic sense,”; said 3rd Circuit Chief Judge Ronald Ibarra in the release. “;The Judiciary can provide a higher level of security and more ADA (American with Disabilities Act) accommodations for litigants, attorneys and court employees at the brand-new complex than at the space that we leased as an ad hoc courtroom.”;

Cases scheduled for Puna Aug. 1 and beyond were moved to the Hilo complex.

The move also eliminates the need for state Department of Public Safety workers to take inmates to two locations, and court employees and judges will not have to go to Puna three days per week.