HILO — The maternal aunt of a 9-year-old Hilo girl allegedly starved to death almost two years ago by her parents and maternal grandmother has filed a petition to become the personal representative of the girl’s estate.
According to court records, Honolulu attorney Joelle Segawa Kane filed the document on behalf of Tina Marie Kasten, a Florida resident and the aunt of Shaelynn Alohalani Haleaka Lehano-Stone, on Wednesday in Hilo Circuit Court. The petition requests a court find that Lehano-Stone died intestate, which means without a will, and appoint Kasten as the estate’s representative.
The petition also requests that Judge Henry Nakamoto, who’s assigned the case, expedite a hearing on the petition, as the statute of limitations to appoint a personal representative expires June 28, the two-year anniversary of the girl’s death.
An appointment of a personal representative is necessary before any civil lawsuit could be filed on behalf of the girl’s estate.
Police and emergency medical personnel were summoned June 28, 2016, to a Kinoole Street apartment almost directly across from Hilo’s central fire station. They reportedly found Lehano-Stone unconscious and apparently severely malnourished. The girl was taken to Hilo Medical Center, where she died a few days later.
The girl’s parents, 50-year-old Kevin Lehano and 34-year-old Tiffany Stone, and her maternal grandmother, 60-year-old Henrietta Stone — who was the girl’s legal guardian — are charged with murder for the girl’s death. All are incarcerated awaiting trial.
Lehano-Stone was taken out of Hilo Union Elementary School to be home-schooled, and the indictments state she was denied adequate food, water and medical care from “on or about Oct. 23, 2015,” until her death.
Kasten’s petition notes the girl’s parents have a right to be appointed personal representative of Lehano-Stone’s estate, but describes them as “unsuitable as they are incarcerated … pending trial … .”
According to court records, Lehano-Stone was on the radar of Child Welfare Services almost from birth, and the state agency took her and at least one of her two siblings, a brother, into temporary custody that year.
Lehano-Stone’s case has elements reminiscent of Peter Kema Jr., aka “Peter Boy,” a 6-year-old boy who disappeared in 1997, and as it turned out, died that year, probably from septic shock due to abuse. His body was discarded by his father, now serving 20 years for manslaughter. There also are similarities to the case of “Alexis,” a 10-year-old Puna girl starved and tortured in 2005 while in the care of Hyacinth Poouahi, a friend of the girl’s mother. Alexis survived, but is permanently disabled, and Poouahi is serving a 20-year prison term.
In a Feb. 7 email to state Sen. Josh Green and Rep. John Mizuno, Steve Lane, a retired private investigator appointed by Nakamoto as special master in the Peter Boy case to help determine if his surviving siblings have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit, advocated for Senate Bill 2273 and House Bill 1885. Those companion bills would have established protocols that would allow children in foster care to obtain legal representation if they suffered an injury that arose to the level of civil liability and the appointment of a special master to investigate any potential tort claims.
Both bills died when the respective Judiciary committees didn’t schedule hearings. The protocols in those measures were patterned after one for the 1st Circuit’s family courts established by Judge R. Mark Browning, which Lane said allowed for his appointment as special master in the Kema case.
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.