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Woman charged with murder in death of child granted supervised release

A Kona Circuit Court judge last Wednesday severed the case of two Puna women accused of murder in the 2018 death of a 6-year-old boy at a Kealakehe apartment complex. Supervised release was also granted to one of the defendants.

Kuuipo Nihipali and Ashley Nihipali were to stand trial together on Sept. 22, however, Chief Judge Robert D.S. Kim granted Kuuipo Nihipali’s motion to sever the cases, meaning they will be tried separately.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Chase Murray filed a no opposition to the motion to sever “pursuant to a plea agreement between defendant Kuuipo Nihipali and the State.” A trial date for Kuuipo Niihipali was set for Dec. 15.

In addition, Kim granted Kuuipo Nihipali’s motion for supervised release, with no objection from the state.

Kuuipo Nihipali will be released to a sponsor and be required to wear electronic monitoring. She had been held on $500,000 bail since the two women were indicted last summer.

Ashley Nihipali remains confined at Hawaii Community Correctional Center in lieu of $1 million bail. Her trial is still slated for Sept. 22.

The two defendants are accused of the death of 6-year-old Mazen Kaniela Nihipali-Moniz on Halloween 2018, and abusing him and his siblings for months prior at the Lailani Apartment complex in Kealakehe.

Kuuipo Nihipali is charged with one count second-degree murder; one count second-degree murder as principal and/or accomplice; six counts second-degree felony abuse of a family or household member as principal and/or accomplice; first-degree hindering prosecution as principal and/or accomplice; tampering with evidence as principal and/or accomplice; and two counts first-degree terroristic threatening as principal and/or accomplice, according to an indictment handed down July 31, 2019.

Ashley Nihipali is facing one count second-degree murder as principal and/or accomplice; six counts second-degree felony abuse of a family or household member as principal and/or accomplice; first-degree hindering prosecution as principal and/or accomplice; tampering with evidence as principal and/or accomplice; and two counts first-degree terroristic threatening as principal and/or accomplice, according to the indictment.

Nihipali-Moniz was pronounced dead about 5:30 p.m. Oct. 31, 2018, after being taken by medics from the Kailua Fire Station to Kona Community Hospital. The 6-year-old was brought unconscious by a family member to the fire station.

Police said the child was reportedly involved in an “incident” and been found unconscious at the Lailani Apartment complex on Manawalea Street.

The child’s death was ruled a homicide after autopsy results revealed the cause of death involved trauma.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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