Trials in ‘Peter Boy’ murder to start next year

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HILO — Trial has been delayed until next year for a 46-year-old Pahoa man accused of killing his then-6-year-old son in 1997.

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HILO — Trial has been delayed until next year for a 46-year-old Pahoa man accused of killing his then-6-year-old son in 1997.

Peter Kema Sr. was scheduled to start trial Monday for the death of Peter Kema Jr., aka “Peter Boy,” but Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura granted him a postponement until 9 a.m. Jan. 23.

Peter Boy’s disappearance set off a media firestorm in 1997 and his body has never been found.

Kema and his 46-year-old wife, Jaylin Kema, were indicted by a Hilo grand jury in April for the boy’s murder, about 19 years after the child vanished.

Jaylin Kema is scheduled to start trial at 8:30 a.m. Jan. 30 before the successor to Hilo Circuit Judge Glenn Hara, who retires at the end of the year.

Peter Boy is the most notorious missing child-turned-murder case in Hawaii history. Social workers documented years of abuse of the boy, who went missing sometime in late spring or early summer 1997. His mother didn’t officially report his disappearance until January 1998 after prompting by a social worker and police.

Peter Kema Sr. told authorities in August 1997 he left Peter Boy with a longtime family friend, “Aunty Rose Makuakane,” at Aala Park in downtown Honolulu.

Authorities couldn’t find any evidence the woman exists, didn’t believe Kema and found no plane tickets to corroborate his story.

Jaylin Kema is also scheduled to start a separate trial for second-degree theft in a welfare fraud case at 8:30 a.m. Jan. 23. That trial, for allegedly collecting more than $17,000 in public assistance benefits she wasn’t entitled to between May 2010 and July 2015, was to have started Monday. The alleged theft was uncovered because of the murder investigation, prosecutors said.

Peter Kema Sr. is in custody in lieu of $500,000 bail.

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Jaylin Kema has a hearing at 8 a.m. Oct. 6 on her request to be freed on supervised release or for her bail to be reduced. She’s being detained on $150,000 bail.

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

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