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ER doctor testifies in child murder case

Trial for a 47-year-old Waimea woman charged with the 2017 murder of a Waimea toddler continued Wednesday with testimony from the lead investigator and two physicians.

Chasity Alcosiba-McKenzie was indicted by a Kona grand jury in October 2019 in connection with the death of 3-year-old Fabian Garett-Garcia. She has pleaded not guilty to the single charge of second-degree murder, which is punishable by life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Alcosiba-McKenzie opted for a bench trial, which means there is no jury, and Circuit Court Judge Wendy DeWeese will decide her fate.

Queen’s North Hawaii Community Hospital Dr. Joann Sarubbi, who was the emergency room physician the night Fabian was brought to the Waimea facility by medics. Sarubbi testified the toddler was nonresponsive and did not have a heartbeat. She subsequently pronounced him dead.

Sarubbi noted bruising around the eyes, cheeks, chin and neck. She also noted bruising to the knees, arms and back.

“Multiple bruising on a child is very concerning when they come to the ER,” she told the court Wednesday.

Hawaii Police Department Detective Carrie Akina took the stand next and recounted the first days of her investigation, including interviews with Alcosiba-McKenzie and video re-enactments at the Alcosiba-McKenzie home.

Akina testified that Alcosiba-McKenzie’s story remained consistent through multiple interviews, albeit with some variances in the timeline.

She said Alcosiba-McKenzie told her Garett-Garcia and his 2-year-old brother played rough together and the bruises on his knees were from a fall he had the previous day while on a supervised visit with his birth parents.

Akina testified she collected a shirt, blanket and sheets that were stained with vomit from the toddler.

Deputy Public Defender James Greenberg asked Akina if Alcosiba-McKenzie was cooperative with the investigation, to which she replied “yes.”

Greenberg also noted tissue samples taken during the autopsy of Garett-Garcia had been lost at the storage facility. The state did not object nor cross-examine the issue.

The state subsequently rested its case and DeWeese denied a motion from the defense to acquit Alcosiba-McKenzie.

A pediatric physician from Paniolo Pediatric and Family Medicine clinic in Waimea was then introduced by the defense. The doctor testified Alcosiba-McKenzie had brought Garett-Garcia and his siblings into the clinic several times for well checks and other minor concerns. He said they always showed up for appointments and there were never any signs of abuse or neglect.

Trial continues today with defense counsel Greenberg questioning an expert witnesses on Alcosiba-McKenzie’s behalf. Alcosiba-McKenzie said she has not yet decided if she will take the stand in her own defense.

The state contends Garett-Garcia died at the hands of Alcosiba-McKenzie.

Alcosiba-McKenzie had reported the toddler fell from an 18-inch bench while wearing virtual reality glasses and did not exhibit symptoms other than vomiting until she found him unresponsive hours later. She contended his sister had a flu previously, exhibiting the same symptoms, so she thought he was coming down with the same thing.

Police arrested in August 2018 Alcosiba-McKenzie, who was the boy’s caregiver, on suspicion of attempted second-degree murder and later released her. Charges were not formally filed until an October 2019 indictment, which stated Alcosiba-McKenzie intentionally or knowingly caused the death of Garett-Garcia including voluntarily omitting to obtain reasonable necessary and available medical service. The indictment was handed down after a Honolulu medical examiner ruled the manor of death homicide a year after Garett-Garcia’s death.

Alcosiba-McKenzie has been free on supervised release since her arrest following the indictment.

Meanwhile, a wrongful death lawsuit filed in April 2019 by Garett-Garcia’s parents Sherri-Ann Garett and Juben Garcia against the state Department of Human Services, Catholic Charities, state-licensed caregivers Chasity Alcosiba-McKenzie and Clifton McKenzie and others, continues. A motion providing additional time for the plaintiffs to submit a pretrial statement was extended in March.

No trial date has been set for the civil litigation.

The civil suit is seeking unspecified monetary damages, which Attorney Jeffrey Foster, counsel for Garett-Garcia’s parents Sherri-Ann Garett and Juben Garcia, previously said would be determined by a jury.

Clifton McKenzie has not been arrested or charged with a crime in connection with the incident, and is only a defendant in the civil litigation.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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