Tuesday, July 22, 2014         

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Driver gets 10 years for crash killing baby

By Leila Fujimori


A Big Island judge has sentenced the drunken driver who killed 17-month-old Aliyah Braden last year and critically injured her mother, Mayvelyn, to 10 years in prison.

During a sentencing hearing Tuesday, Valereen Kaleohano-Knittle, 51, apologized to Aliyah Braden's family.

She told the court she has committed herself to working to prevent others from drinking and driving and has chosen to remain sober, Deputy Prosecutor Kimberly Taniyama said.

Kaleohano-Knittle "expressed remorse for the injuries she caused and the loss of the child," Taniyama said.

After her apology, Aliyah Braden's father, Wayne, walked to the defense table, spoke with the defendant and hugged her.

Mayvelyn Braden's physical recovery is progressing, and she is able to walk without a cane, Taniyama said. "She's come a very long way," she said.

Circuit Judge Elizabeth Strance sentenced Kaleohano-Knittle to the maximum 10 years in prison for the negligent homicide conviction and five years for negligent injury. The sentences will run concurrently.

Kaleohano-Knittle pleaded guilty to first-degree negligent homicide, first-degree negligent injury, consuming or possessing alcohol while driving and inattention to driving.

Charges of manslaughter, assault and reckless driving were dropped under a plea agreement.

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