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Dad released in home-alone case

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A 45-year-old Kalihi man was released without charges after allegedly leaving his 11-month-old son alone in a home in Kalihi.

Police said the man was released about 5:30 a.m. yesterday after prosecutors declined to pursue the case.

The incident occurred about 6 p.m. Tuesday in the 2900 block of Kalihi Street, where the man left the boy alone in a room of a house shared by other tenants, police said.

One of the tenants heard the boy crying and told the landlord, who called police.

Officers found the boy and took him to Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children, where he was in good condition. He was later turned over to a social worker with state Child Welfare Services.

When the man returned to his home about 9 p.m. Tuesday, officers arrested him on suspicion of second-degree endangering the welfare of a minor. That is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison.

In response to the incident, Rep. John Mizuno (D, Kalihi) said he plans to toughen the law against leaving children alone.

Mizuno said he will introduce a bill in the next legislative session that will broaden the definition of first-degree endangering welfare of a minor to include any person who "willfully causes or permits that child to be placed in a situation where his or her health is endangered."

First-degree endangering is a class C felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison. 

He said there are many cases that fall between the definition of second-degree endangerment, which relates to reckless action, and first-degree endangerment, which is defined by intentional action by an adult.

He said the amendment reflects changes in society.

Before, he said, families took care of each other, but now everyone has to work to help the family get by.

"People aren’t as connected as they used to be," he said. "With the times, we have to evolve our laws."

 

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