Woman who tried to kill child acquitted by reason of insanity - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Woman who tried to kill child acquitted by reason of insanity

Jeen Kwak Jeen Kwak
Elly Rivera Elly Rivera

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - She says voices in her head led her to try to kill her own daughter. On Friday, an Oahu woman, charged with attempted murder, was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Prosecutors call it a tragic case in which a woman, suffering from mental illness, winds up harming her own child.

"This is very tough," Jeen Kwak, deputy prosecutor, said. "This is not only tough for me, obviously, but for the family because I think it's pretty clear that the defendant was a mother and she loved her children."

Prosecutors say Elly Rivera choked her three-year-old daughter, Haley, until she was unconscious.

According to court papers, Rivera told her husband "voices kept telling her that they would kill and burn the kids." She said she did it because "she didn't want them to suffer."

"Subsequently, she realized what she's done and she asked her husband to help out, to check on Haley if she's okay," Kwak said.

Her husband told police, the toddler's face was "very red and her lips were dry and pale." He said she was "breathing quickly with occasional convulsions."

"Can you talk about how Haley is doing now?" this reporter asked Kwak.

"I've heard that Haley's doing very well...that she's perfectly fine and doing very well, which is really, really good to hear," she replied.

With Haley's father looking on, a judge acquits Elly Rivera of attempted murder, after a panel of mental health experts determined she could not distinguish between right and wrong at the time of the attack.

The 27-year-old must stay at the Hawaii State Hospital until doctors decide she's well enough, and is no longer a danger to herself and others.

"The state could not agree to any type of release until it is absolutely clear, assured, that this will not happen again," Kwak said.

While at the hospital, Rivera will be allowed supervised visits with her daughter.

Another court hearing is set for September 3rd.

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