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Peter Boy’s mom pleads guilty to manslaughter; agrees to testify against husband

  • COURTESY JAMES AND YOLANDA ACOL

    “Peter Boy” in happy days when he was living with his grandparents.

  • DARYL LEE / APRIL 2016

    Jaylin Kema appeared in the Hilo courtroom of Judge Glenn Hara on Friday charged in the murder of Peter Boy Kema.

The mother of missing “Peter Boy” Kema pleaded guilty to manslaughter this morning in one of the islands’ most notorious unsolved cases and has agreed to testify against her husband, who faces a murder trial in April in their son’s death.

“Four years ago we decided we would look at these cases with a fresh set of eyes,” Hawaii County Prosecutor Mitch Roth told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser today. “We haven’t forgotten about these cases. The family doesn’t forget. The community shouldn’t forget either. We want to make sure that justice prevails.”

Jaylin Kema’s Hilo defense attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Kema and her husband, Peter Kema Sr., were charged with second-degree murder after they were indicted by a Hilo grand jury in April, about 19 years after Peter Boy’s disappearance in 1997.

Peter Kema Sr. told authorities in August 1997 that he left Peter Boy with a longtime family friend, “Aunty Rose Makuakane,” at Aala Park in downtown Honolulu. Her existence could not be verified.

The 1997 disappearance of “Peter Boy” Kema, then 6, was initially a missing-person case, but in 2000 police reclassified it to a homicide.

Jaylin was originally charged with murder in the second degree “based on an omission,” Roth said. “As a mother of a child, you have a duty to act when your child needs medical care and she failed to act.”

In an agreement with the prosecutor’s office, Jaylin pleaded guilty to manslaughter and to a charge of second-degree theft in connection with a welfare fraud case.

Prosecutors previously said Jaylin collected more than $17,000 in public assistance benefits she wasn’t entitled to between May 2010 and July 2015. The theft was uncovered because of the murder investigation, prosecutors had said.

As part of Jaylin’s plea agreement, Roth said, “she’s agreeing to testify against her husband” in his April murder trial over Peter Boy’s death.

She likely will not be sentenced until May, Roth said, and faces a year in jail and 10 years’ probation.

Peter Kema, Sr. faces the possibility of life in prison without parole.

During his 2012 campaign for Hawaii County Prosecutor, Roth pledged to review the island’s unsolved cases, including Peter Boy’s.

Roth said today that indictments in other unsolved murder cases could be forthcoming in the next few months.

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  • What? She orchestrated the murder of her own son along with her husband. They escaped the law for nearly 20 years. 1 year? Pot dealers get more than that! There should be no plea deal, life in prison for both. Peter was a victim of a heinous crime. Shame on the legal system, prosecutors and defense attorneys for not throwing the book at the kema’s. So, so, sad.

    • That is the trade off. With zero forensic evidence after 20 years, the only way they can convict the husband is for the wife to flip on the husband. You are probably right, both are just as guilty but getting one to spend hard time on the murder is the best they can do at this point. If it wasn’t for the welfare fraud on the wife and possibly husband, both mother and father would have gotten away with the murder.

    • Not to worry. While she may get off light on the legal justice side, prison justice will ensure every one of her days behind bars is a living hell. Prisoners have no respect for anyone hurting a child.

      She will be abused 24/7, no friends at all. She may not last the entire prison term, taken out by prison justice.

      What goes around comes around.

    • It’s easy to criticize without knowing all the facts, but please refrain. This is not the outcome any prosecutor would have preferred, but in cold cases like this, they sometimes have to take what they can get. And of course, defense attorneys have their job to do, or face consequences for ineffective counsel.

    • Sorry but I don’t remember the whole story but didn’t one of their siblings say that they say the boy dead in the car? Yet he was on the plane to Oahu to meet the so called aunty? Anyone remembers?

    • Think she was a witness to the beating Peter Boy had gotten from Peter Sr. plus she didn’t report the abuse or take Peter Boy to a medical facility for injuries whereas contributed to his death. An accessory helping Peter Sr. to discard Peter Boy’s body

  • It’s about time that Jaylin Kema comes forward! She must know the truth and I cannot imagine how she functions every day for 19 years knowing what really happened. Agree with DeltaDag that from the very start, the Auntie Rose excuse was flimsy. If prof of her even existing was difficult, then it should have been a red flag already. We are all suppose to have a SS#, or birth certificate, or SOMETHING that proves we exist. And, if she is “an old family friend,” then Peter Sr. must also know where she lives and could take police to the home to verify. A child is not a piece of garbage you can just toss away and forget.

  • The court cases and sentencing will give the legislature plenty of time to bring back the death penalty. It would work very well in a small place like Hawaii.

  • i cannot believe she could live her life knowing the entire time what really happened and to continue to lie about it! in my books she is a truly an evil person!

    • True. But, I also think that part of it, and I’m not saying it’s a GOOD excuse, is that her relationship with Peter Sr. might be one where he is domineering, maybe even violent, and she was afraid to speak up against him until now. Yes, 19 years is a long time to be afraid, but we don’t fully know their relationship. Of course, this is all speculation. Still, it’s about time she speaks up!

  • Still remember that case… Peter Boy will be 25 years old if he was still alive… He could’ve would’ve become someone important… Maybe changed the world…
    I guess we would never find out now….
    Rest in Peace Peter Boy.

  • She was probably abused by Kem, feared for her life and would have remained silent if the welfare fraud wasn’t uncovered. She is finally doing the right thing.
    Hopefully, the jury will find Kema guilty and Jaylin will no longer have to live in fear.
    But, she’ll have to live with her demons.

  • We may actually learn the truth after all these years. But which one will be telling it since it is highly likely there will still be two different versions of what actually took place. Husband or wife tells the truth? It will still be difficult for the jury unless there is a confession.

  • I am just hoping that Mr. Kema is not told that his wife will be turning State’s evidence and testifying against him. He could choose to take the cowardly way out and take his own life before even going to trial. What a shame because I for one would love to see him get the maximum punishment the law allows for his heinous crime against that poor child. Rest in Love little Peter Boy…Justice is hopefully coming soon.

    • What exactly do you mean by this? It seems as if there is always someone eager to point fingers and criticize about things they know little about. If every crime is clear cut and easy to solve, we wouldn’t have situations like this. But this is the real world, where not everything is perfect.

      • From the beginning the parent’s alibi and excuse was so absurd and patently false that it was an insult to anyone’s intelligence. An “aunty” that didn’t exist?! How many years (20, count ‘em) went by with no progress? How does the state let ANY parent get away with giving their child away to a non-existent relative? No follow-up? No documentation to the status of the child?

  • Looks like the big island now has a prosecutor who actually knows how to do the job right. There was always only one way to get a conviction in this case he did it. Keith Kaneshiro could learn a few things from Roth but he’s too busy chasing game room operators and prostitutes.

  • So she’s part of the coverup w/ her husband and gets a slap on the wrist ??? This SUCKS !!!!! WHERE IS PETER-BOY ????? They both need life w/out parole …

    • I hope she doesn’t think testifying against that punk will absolve her emotionally from being an integral partner in crime. She still deserves much worse then her plea agreement. Sickening

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