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Murder case opened in death of Hawaii island woman

By Star-Advertiser staff


Hawaii island police have reclassified the death of a Wainaku woman -- who died mysteriously nine months after her daughter was beaten to death -- as a murder.

Sommer Ferreira, 20, was found dead in the laundry room of a Wainaku residence on Sept. 20, 2011.

Based on circumstances at the time of the incident, no foul play was suspected, according to police. However, police later described the death as "suspicious."

On Friday, police announced that the case had been reopened after further information had been received regarding Ferreira's death. Police did not indicate what that information included but noted that a suspect had been identified and that the case had been routed to the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney for review.

On Jan. 2, 2011, Ferreira's 18-month-old daughter Pomaikai was admitted to Hilo Medical Center after experiencing difficulty breathing. She was transferred to the Queen's Medical Center, where she died on Jan. 9, 2011.

An autopsy indicated that Pomaikai Ferreira died from "intercranial injury due to repetitive abusive head trauma."

Sommer Ferreira's live-in boyfriend Xavier Cortez, Jr. was initially arrested on suspicion of first-degree assault of the child but was released pending investigation.

Cortez, 39, was re-arrested on Jan. 28 following a tip to police and was charged with second-degree murder.

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