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Former Hawai‘i Human Services Director Comments on Kema Sentencing

July 24, 2017, 11:34 AM HST (Updated July 24, 2017, 11:37 AM)
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Lillian B. Koller, J.D., Hawai’i’s Human Services State Director from 2003 to 2010 and author of a four-part book series about the death of “Peter Boy” Kema Jr. released the following statement regarding the  July 24, 2017, sentencing of Peter J. Kema Sr.:

“Today’s sentencing of Peter J. Kema, Sr. is what you’d expect when justice is delayed for two decades. This monster who tortured and in 1997 killed his young son—“Peter Boy” Kema, Jr.—should have been imprisoned for life for murder. Instead, he gets to plead guilty to manslaughter and could be released early on parole.

“Incredibly, and sadly, Peter Sr. will be eligible for parole after serving less time in prison than how long Peter Boy was even alive and, shockingly, less than a third of the time that Peter Boy has already been dead!

“This miscarriage of justice is obvious to anyone who viewed the 2,000 pages of official Peter Boy records I publicly disclosed from 2005 to 2010 when serving as Hawai’i Human Services State director. These deeply disturbing records are also revealed and explained in my four-part e-book series.

“The fact is, Peter Boy’s suffering and death should have been prevented by many people within Hawai’i’s child protection system. He should have been protected from his mother, Jaylin M. A. Kema, who actively participated in Peter Boy’s tragic demise and got a virtual free pass after just one year in jail, released a few months ago. And Peter Boy especially should have been protected from his father’s sadistic, relentless and remorseless child abuse and neglect.

“Unfortunately, people who were most directly involved, even legally charged with protecting Peter Boy and his three young siblings from parental abuse and neglect, repeatedly made egregious mistakes. His siblings, fortunately, survived this monumental system failure. But Peter Boy, at barely six years of age, did not.

“There was a unique opportunity 12 years ago, when I first disclosed the Peter Boy records, to obtain much better outcomes from the criminal justice system than we see today.

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“In January 2005, Mrs. Kema had a restraining order against her estranged husband and likely would have been easier to persuade to testify against him in criminal court if they both were indicted for murder.

“Moreover, the surviving three children were eight years older in 2005 (12, 16 and 18) than they were when Peter Boy ‘disappeared’ in 1997. Their eyewitness accounts would have been more credible in 2005, had Peter Boy’s parents been indicted back then.

“Even two years later in 2007, the opportunity to indict Peter Boy’s parents was inexplicably passed over. Then-Hawai’i County Prosecutor Jay Kimura publicly encouraged ‘patience.’ But, as letters handwritten in January 2007 by each of these siblings demonstrated, their memories and ability to articulate remained crystal clear about what happened to Peter Boy.

“Why wait until 2016 to seek grand jury murder indictments? What ‘new evidence’ necessitated the passage of 11 more years, on top of the eight years already passed since Peter Boy vanished, to seek murder indictments against the parents? Why allow these conspiratorial, child-abusing murderers to live their lives free of accountability for 19 years?

“One thing is for sure: Penalties against Peter Boy’s parents would have been much harsher if indictments occurred in 2005 before the statutes of limitations on numerous crimes expired. As a legal maxim correctly points out, justice delayed is justice denied!

“Now that Peter Sr. has been sentenced, I urge the public to avoid a sense of closure. We still must enact critical reforms in Hawai’i’s child protection system so other children do not suffer Peter Boy’s fate.

“You need look no further than the recent Big Island tragedy of a 9-year-old girl being starved to death. Clearly, the lessons from Peter Boy’s tragedy have yet to be learned!

Koller is the author of “PETER BOY: Hawai’i’s Most Notorious Case of Child Abuse and Murder.”

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