- Associated Press - Saturday, January 14, 2017

HILO, Hawaii (AP) - A court-appointed representative will determine whether there are grounds for a civil suit on behalf of the estate of a boy whose mother recently pleaded guilty to manslaughter in his death.

A judge appointed private investigator Stephen W. Lane and ordered the child welfare department to release records for Peter Kema Jr. and his siblings, reported the Hawaii-Tribune Herald (https://bit.ly/2jvEJNt ).

The mother’s plea deal confirmed almost 20 years after the 6-year-old boy’s disappearance that he had died.

“My charge from the court is to examine the circumstances of Peter Kema’s (Jr.) life and disappearance by gaining access to the records the state and others might have and then reach a conclusion as to whether or not I think there are any . claims that arise from that review of those documents,” Lane said. “I’ll file a report with the family court with respect to that and probably make recommendations.”

Lane said a judge set protocol last year for representatives to determine liability in cases involving children who were wards of the state or in foster care.

“Bear in mind, wards of the state and foster children were really disenfranchised. They were frozen out,” Lane said. “They had no access to attorneys because of their minority status and because of their ward status with the state. So this, I thought, was a sea change that Judge Browning brought about by making it possible for foster kids or wards of the state to get access to an attorney if they get hurt, like everyone else has.”

Lane said redacted records that were previously released show the boy “was tortured almost every day” and that “the state kept sending him back again and again to a family that was demonstrably unfit and violent, in my opinion.”

Jaylin Kema will testify against her husband at his trial set for April.

Peter Kema Sr. has said he took the boy to live with an aunt.

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

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