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Wednesday, April 23, 2014         

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Big Island woman sentenced to 10 years in crash that killed 17-month-old girl

By Leila Fujimori

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

During her sentencing hearing yesterday, 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 live a sober life herself, said Deputy Prosecutor Kimberly Taniyama.

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, stood up, went before the defense table, spoke with her and gave her a hug, Taniyama said.

Mayvelyn Braden has improved tremendously, Taniyama said, adding she is now able to walk without a cane. "She's come a very long way," she said.

Circuit Judge Elizabeth Strance sentenced Kaleohano-Knittle to the maximum 10 years' imprisonment for the negligent homicide and five years for the negligent injury, to run concurrently.

The charges of manslaughter, second-degree assault and reckless driving were dropped as a result of a plea agreement.

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

Taniyama said the decision for a plea agreement was reached after speaking with the victim's family, who wanted to resolve the case quickly sooner than later and did not want to go to trial. The family also felt it was important she serve time,  Taniyama said.

Kaleohano-Knittle will return to court in January to face possible restitution costs for medical costs and funeral costs.






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