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Father of girl pleads no contest in case of starvation

HILO (AP) — The father of a 9-year-old Hawaii girl who starved to death pleaded no contest to manslaughter.

Kevin Lehano’s plea to a reduced charge is part of a deal with prosecutors, Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Thursday.

Lehano, his wife and his mother-in-law were indicted on second-degree murder charges for the 2016 starvation death of Shaelynn Lehano-Stone.

A judge last month sentenced the girl’s mother, Tiffany Stone, to 10 years probation. She pleaded no contest manslaughter.

Her mother — the girl’s grandmother — pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder. Henrietta Stone has a hearing scheduled for Friday on a court-ordered mental examination. She remains jailed in lieu of $100,000 bail.

Henrietta Stone was the girl’s legal guardian and had pulled her out of Hilo Union Elementary School to be home-schooled, the newspaper reported.

After a 911 call, police found her at Henrietta Stone’s apartment unconscious on June 28, 2016. She died later that day.

Lehano faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced.

His attorney Sherilyn Tavares said Lehano will seek probation. She asked that Lehano be released without bail pending his sentencing in order to participate in preparing a pre-sentence report.

She said it’s been difficult to meet with her client at the Big Island correctional center where he’s been held on $100,000 bail.

“Numerous appointments had to be canceled, based on things like no adequate space to meet because of construction that is happening at the facility, and different portions of (the jail) on lockdown and quarantine due to COVID restrictions,” Tavares said.

Releasing him would allow him to show he’s not a danger to the community, she said.

Deputy Prosecutor Haaheo Kahoohalahala objected to releasing Lehano without posting bail.