Convicted murderer has chance for parole


POSTED: Friday, March 05, 2010

Matthew Higa, convicted of murdering a 23-month-old toddler, will not face the prospect of going to prison for the rest of his life without the opportunity for parole.

Honolulu Prosecutor Peter Carlisle withdrew yesterday his request for the most severe penalty allowed by state law rather than try to convince a jury that Higa deserves it with witnesses who are admitted drug users.

“;We're already going to get a 15-year minimum term, and we're going to get life with the possibility for parole,”; Carlisle said.

Even if Higa is sentenced to life without parole, in 20 years his case would be up for automatic review, and the governor could reduce the sentence to life with parole.

Instead, Carlisle said, he will ask the Hawaii Paroling Authority to require Higa to serve 200 years in prison before he is even eligible for parole. After he serves one-third of that time, Higa can ask for a reduction, but by then he will be 90 years old.

A state judge found Higa, 25, guilty of murder for throwing Cyrus Belt off a pedestrian overpass onto the H-1 freeway on Jan. 17, 2008.