POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jul 22, 2010
Convicted child killer Matthew Higa will not have the opportunity for release from prison until he has spent at least 200 years behind bars.
The state parole board set the minimum number of years Higa must complete before he is eligible for parole on his second-degree murder conviction, and sent him a letter on its decision this week, said Max Otani, Hawaii Paroling Authority administrator.
Outgoing Honolulu Prosecutor Peter Carlisle confirmed the 200-year minimum.
A state judge found Higa guilty of second-degree murder for the Jan. 17, 2008, killing of 23-month-old Cyrus Belt.
A witness said he saw Higa throw Belt off a pedestrian overpass bridge onto the H-1 freeway. Higa's trial lawyer suggested Belt was already dead when the toddler was tossed and that somebody else killed Belt.
Even if Higa asks for a reduction in the 200 years, the parole board will not be able to even consider the request until Higa has completed at least a third of it, according to Hawaii Administrative Rules. By that time, Higa will be 90.
Without the 200-year minimum, Higa would have been required to spend at least 15 years behind bars because the victim was younger than 8.