Murder charge in boy’s death dismissed for now

McKeown released from MCCC ‘pending further investigation’

Kyle McKeown

A murder charge has been dismissed against a man who had been awaiting trial in the death of his 4-year-old son more than five years ago.

Kyle McKeown, 38, was released from the Maui Community Correctional Center on April 17 after the dismissal was filed by the prosecution.

“While we were looking forward to an opportunity this month to finally be able to present our case, which we believe would have proven to the jury as well as our community that Mr. McKeown was a loving father who never caused any harm to his child, we are of course excited to have the case dismissed,” his attorney, Matthew Nardi, said Wednesday. “We only now hope that in re-evaluating the case, the Maui County Prosecutor’s Office comes to understand what the evidence has shown all along, which is Mr. McKeown is in no way responsible for the death of his son.”

First Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Robert Rivera said the second-degree murder charge was dismissed without prejudice “pending further investigation.”

That generally means the case will be reindicted or a new complaint will be filed.

McKeown and his then-live-in girlfriend, Grace Lee-Nakamoto, 33, were arrested after they took an unresponsive Zion McKeown to the Maui Memorial Medical Center emergency room at 10:55 p.m. May 29, 2012. The boy was pronounced dead at 4:30 a.m. the next day, with an autopsy showing he died of blunt force trauma to his lower abdomen, according to police.

Lee-Nakamoto, who was indicted on a second-degree murder charge along with McKeown, also had her case dismissed April 17. She had been released from jail on supervision in April 2013, court records show.

Her attorney, Al Albrechtson, said Wednesday that the prosecution has indicated “they’re going to refile charges, based upon what they feel is new evidence.”

“They haven’t told us what it is,” Albrechtson said. “We have never felt that she was in any way at fault in the incident that occurred. We’re glad that the dismissal was filed.”

The charges were dismissed as a May 21 trial date was approaching for McKeown in 2nd Circuit Court.

Nardi had filed a motion to dismiss the indictment, alleging that insufficient, misleading and prejudicial evidence was presented to the grand jury that returned the indictment against McKeown.

Last year, the state agreed to pay $875,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by Zion’s maternal grandmother. The lawsuit alleged negligence by Child Welfare Services in returning Zion to his parents despite acts of child abuse that began shortly after his birth.

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at lfujimoto@mauinews.com.