HILO >> Hawaii island Circuit Court Judge Greg Nakamura formally declared Peter “Peter Boy” Kema Jr. to be dead today in a decision that clears the way for a lawsuit by Kema’s siblings in one of Hawaii’s most infamous child abuse cases.
Nakamura approved a petition by Chauntelle Acol, Kema’s older sister, and also approved Acol as personal representative of the boy’s estate. Kema’s other siblings are Lina and Allan Acol of Kona.
Peter Boy is presumed to have died sometime in June or July of 1997 after years of physical abuse that began when he was an infant. The boy disappeared in 1997 when he was 6 years old, and his father Peter Kema Sr. told authorities that he left the child with a family friend known as “Auntie Rose Makuakane” at Aala Park in Honolulu.
State Department of Human Services had been involved with the Kema family since shortly after Peter Boy was born, placing him and two older siblings into foster custody because of reports of child abuse.
Documents released by the department in 2005 included reports that the boy had been punched, slapped, tied up with ropes and chains, and forced to eat feces. Those documents indicated authorities had discussed permanently separating the children from their parents as early as 1992, but Family Court in Hilo later decided the family could be reunited.
Peter Kema Sr. and Peter Boy’s mother, Jaylin Kema, were finally indicted in 2016 on charges of second-degree murder in the boy’s disappearance. Authorities believe the boy likely died of septic shock caused by a deep wound to his arm that did not receive proper medical treatment.
Peter Kema Sr. pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the boy’s death and was sentenced in July to up to 20 years in prison. Nakamura imposed a mandatory minimum term of six years and eight months that Kema must serve before he can become eligible for parole.
As part of that plea agreement, Peter Kema Sr. agreed to lead authorities to his son’s body. The elder Kema led police to an area in Puna where he told authorities he unsuccessfully tried to burn the boy’s body and then put him in a box and dumped him in the ocean.
The boy’s remains have never been found, but the elder Kema passed a lie-detector test that was designed to confirm his description of how he disposed of the body.
Jaylin Kema also pleaded guilty to manslaughter last December for failing to obtain medical treatment for her son. She was required to serve only a year in jail as part of a plea agreement that required her to testify against her husband if the case went to trial.
Jaylin Kema was released in April, but was back in court today in Hilo for resentencing after her probation was revoked because she tested positive for marijuana use.
Under the terms of a new plea agreement, District Court Judge Henry Nakamoto resentenced Jaylin Kema to probation and another six months in jail, but agreed to suspend the additional jail time provided she complies with strict terms of probation.
Kema’s lawyer Brian De Lima said today the handling of that probation violation showed “she is being treated the same as any other person who is on probation that has an initial violation. She’s not being treated any differently, she is not being treated harsher, or less harsh. She is being treated the same as any other citizen who is placed on probation.”