- Associated Press - Thursday, August 11, 2016

HILO, Hawaii (AP) - A Mountain View man once accused of killing his girlfriend has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for the beating death of the woman’s 18-month-old daughter.

Former professional boxer Xavier “Pee Wee” Cortez Jr. was sentenced last week after pleading no contest to assault as part of a plea deal with prosecutors. Deputy Prosecutor Rick Damerville said the agreement with Cortez, who was initially charged with murder in Pomaikai Ferreira’s January 2011 death, came after the state lost two witnesses.

“That made it real hard for the state to go forward to trial,” Damerville told The Hawaii Tribune-Herald (https://bit.ly/2b6UAOC) on Tuesday.

Cortez had also been charged with second-degree murder in a separate incident for the strangling death of 20-year-old Sommer Ferreira in September 2011.

But a judge dismissed the charge without prejudice after the prosecution was unable to gain the cooperation of witnesses.

“We had one who pleaded the Fifth (Amendment right against self-incrimination),” County Prosecutor Mitch Roth said at the time. “And we had some other witnesses we couldn’t find and some witnesses we had the court ruled we couldn’t use. So, at this time, we felt, in the interest of justice, we felt it was best to dismiss the case without prejudice, as the judge allowed us to do, instead of moving forward.”

Prosecutors still have the opportunity to refile the charge, and there is no statute of limitations for murder.

Cortez’s 10-year sentence for the child’s death is an open term, meaning the state Paroling Authority will decide when he will be released. He will receive time for credit served.


Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald, https://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/

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