Woman who tortured, starved children gets 5-year prison term - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Woman who tortured, starved children gets 5-year prison term

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Rita Makekau Rita Makekau
Lori Wada Lori Wada

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - A Waianae woman who, prosecutors say, created a "house of torture" for five young children received her punishment Friday.

Imagine getting hit in the teeth with a hammer, or having a broom handle shoved down your throat. Five children say those are the kinds of attacks they suffered over a four-year period.

"They have no trust because family that's supposed to take you in and love you and protect you did not do that," Lori Wada, deputy prosecutor, said.

The children lived with their aunt, Rita Makekau, who was convicted of eight counts of assault and one count of domestic abuse. Prosecutors want her to be sentenced to 41 years in prison.

"To be starved outside without any sleeping material, warm clothes, clean clothes or food under the house," Wada said about the abuse. "To be hit with a bat over and over."

But the 52-year-old asks for probation.

"When we are put here on Earth, we are to discipline," Makekau said. "The Bible says to spare the rod on your children."

She says she does care about the kids.

"I love them very much," the convicted child abuser said.

The judge hands down a five-year prison term and allows Makekau, a Native Hawaiian who argues state courts have no jurisdiction over her, to remain free until December 22nd to file an appeal.

"Hawaiian sovereignty does not excuse you from committing these types of crimes," Wada said. "In the state's opinion, it's another miscarriage of justice."

Two other adults who lived in the home, Gabriel and Barbara Kalama, are set to be sentenced Monday for the roles they played in the abuse.