Parole board: Kema Sr. must serve at least 18 years

  • KEMA SR.
  • 'PETER BOY'
  • ROTH

HILO — Peter Kema Sr. must serve a minimum of 18 years in prison for the killing of his son, Peter Kema Jr., aka “Peter Boy,” the Hawaii Paroling Authority announced Thursday.

Toni Schwartz, spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Safety, said Kema went before the parole board March 29, and the board set a minimum sentence of 18 years for manslaughter, and four years for hindering prosecution, before he can be considered for parole.

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Kema Sr.’s sentences on the two felony charges are running concurrently and the maximum sentence for manslaughter, a Class A felony, is 20 years.

“With credit for time already served of 452 days, inmate Kema’s minimum term will expire on April 23, 2034. Therefore, he will be automatically scheduled for an initial parole consideration hearing during February 2034,” Schwartz said in an email.

Kema Sr. is incarcerated at Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Ariz.

Hawaii County Prosecutor Mitch Roth obtained murder indictments in April 2016 against Kema Sr. and his wife, Jaylin Kema, for the 1997 death of Peter Boy, the chronically abused 6-year-old whose disappearance set off a statewide media firestorm two decades ago.

“We’re pleased with the parole board’s decision,” Roth said. “We felt pretty confident that they would go on the high end, which this is. We also feel pretty confident that 18 is a minimum, that he’ll probably do closer to 20 than 18, but we’re going to have to wait another 16, 17 years to find that out for sure.

“It’s a tragedy that we ended up losing a child, so there’s no celebration or anything like that. We still have problems in the system that need to be fixed.”

Kema Sr. and Jaylin Kema both pleaded guilty to manslaughter. Kema Sr. took authorities to a remote stretch of Puna coastline where he said he set his son’s body adrift in a cardboard box. Peter Boy’s body was never found.

Jaylin Kema, who said her son likely died as the result of an untreated festering wound on his arm due to abuse by his father, was sentenced to 10 years probation and a year in jail, already served, for her agreement to testify against Kema Sr. if the case went to trial.

Peter Boy, who was abused almost from birth, was taken out of school when he was in first grade, which Roth said “should’ve been a red flag.” A piece of legislation Roth advocated for to alert authorities when a child whose parents are on the radar of Child Welfare Services — also known as Child Protective Services — is removed from school was withdrawn from this year’s legislative session after encountering resistance from home schooling advocates.

“We’re looking forward to working with the home schooling community to fix that loophole. I’ve got to believe that everybody wants to protect the kids. Maybe our idea wasn’t the best, but I look forward to talking with them and finding a solution everybody can agree on,” Roth said.

Roth said legislation that would provide more CWS caseworkers is still alive this session.

Another case currently going through the court system is the death of Shaelynn Lehano-Stone, a 9-year-old home-schooled Hilo girl who died June 28, 2016, allegedly of starvation.

Kevin Lehano and Tiffany Stone, the girl’s parents, pleaded not guilty to murder, as has the girl’s maternal grandmother, Henrietta Stone.

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According to the state Department of Education, Henrietta Stone, Shaelynn Lehano-Stone’s legal guardian, pulled the girl out of Hilo Union School in November 2015.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.