Dad and aunt of toddler flung onto road sue state, mother and accused killer


POSTED: Friday, January 15, 2010

Cyrus Belt's father and aunt are suing the state, Belt's mother and his accused killer, Matthew Higa, over the toddler's death in 2008.

The 23-month-old toddler was thrown onto the H-1 freeway from a pedestrian overpass Jan. 17, 2008.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in state court on behalf of David Belt and his sister Lisa Belt, holds Higa responsible for causing Cyrus' death by throwing the toddler off the pedestrian bridge. The lawsuit also claims negligence by the state Child Welfare Services Branch and that Cyrus' mother, Nancy Chanco, allowed Higa access to Belt.

Higa, 25, is charged with second-degree murder. His trial is scheduled for this month.

In trial, Higa is expected to claim he is not guilty of murder, arguing that the boy was dead before his plunge onto the freeway, according to state court records.

The Honolulu medical examiner says Belt died from multiple blunt force injuries sustained in the fall.

Police said a truck also ran over the toddler on the freeway.


Higa's lawyer, Randy Oyama, says in court documents that the autopsy is wrong because it bases its conclusion on an erroneous assumption: that Belt was alive when he plunged onto the freeway.

Oyama says there is “;evidence that can credibly establish that deceased was dead, or at least unconscious, prior to his fall.”;

He said the evidence is in eyewitness descriptions.

A witness who told police he saw Higa “;toss the child by one arm over the overpass”; said he thought the child “;was a toy doll,”; according to his written statement. He said, “;It looked like a doll spinning in a cartwheel motion.”;

The passenger in the truck that struck Belt said in his written statement he saw a small baby fall from the overpass. “;The baby was wearing a (diaper) and appeared to me to be dead. It was not moving as it fell.”;

Oyama said he will present medical testimony in trial that based on the above descriptions, Belt was either dead or unconscious prior to the fall.

In response to inquires following the autopsy, the doctor who performed the examination released a written statement that said the autopsy did not show objective evidence to indicate that Belt was dead prior to being thrown off the pedestrian overpass.