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Woman pleads guilty to manslaughter in death of 6-year-old

Sentencing is set for one of two women charged in connection with the 2018 death of a 6-year-old boy at a Kealakehe apartment complex.

Ashley Nihipali pleaded guilty Wednesday before Kona Circuit Judge Robert D.S. Kim to the lesser-included offense of manslaughter and three counts of felony abuse of a family or household member in the presence of minor younger than 14.

In exchange for her plea, the state agreed to drop one count of second-degree murder as principal and/or accomplice, three counts of second-degree felony abuse of a family or household member as principal and/or accomplice, one count of first-degree hindering prosecution as principal and/or accomplice, one count of tampering with evidence as principal and/or accomplice, and two counts of first-degree terroristic threatening as principal and/or accomplice filed in connection with the Oct. 31, 2018, death of Mazen Kaniela Nihipali-Moniz.

Kim set sentencing for Nov. 16. Nihipali faces up to 20 years imprisonment for manslaughter, a Class A felony, and five years for the abuse charges, each of which are Class C felonies.

Ashley Nihipali and Kuuipo Nihipali, the second woman charged in connection with the boy’s death, were indicted in August 2019.

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

In August, she was granted supervised release with a trial date set for Dec. 15.

The two women were indicted last summer.

Ashley Nihipali remains in custody at Hawaii Community Correctional Center in lieu of $1 million while she awaits sentencing.

The two defendants are accused of the death of Nihipali-Moniz on Oct. 31, 2018, and of abusing him and his siblings for months prior at the Lailani Apartment complex in Kealakehe.

Nihipali-Moniz was pronounced dead about 5:30 p.m. 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 found unconscious at the apartment complex on Manawalea Street. The child’s death was ruled a homicide after autopsy results revealed the cause of death involved trauma.

Email Laura Ruminski at lruminski@westhawaiitoday.com.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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