Mother of toddler who was thrown onto freeway says... - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Mother of toddler who was thrown onto freeway says she was out gambling, doing drugs

Nancy Chanco Nancy Chanco
Matthew Higa Matthew Higa
Shane Mizusawa Shane Mizusawa

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The mother of an Oahu toddler, who was thrown off a freeway overpass two years ago, says she was out gambling and doing drugs the day her son died.

But it wasn't made clear how her neighbor, murder defendant Matthew Higa, ended up with the child.

When 23-month-old Cyrus Belt was killed, just about everyone in his life was an ice user, including his mother.

"You were using crystal methamphetamine at this time. Is that correct?" Peter Carlisle, Honolulu prosecutor, asked.

"Yes," Nancy Chanco, dead boy's mother, testified.

"Regularly?" Carlisle asked.

"Yes," Chanco replied.

On January 17, 2008, her toddler was run over by a delivery truck after Matthew Higa threw him onto the H-1 Freeway from a pedestrian overpass.

Nancy Chanco says she left her son with her father, and spent that day going to an illegal gambling parlor and losing money, smoking crystal meth, and heading to Ala Moana Center with her then-boyfriend, Shane Mizusawa.

"It was probably to get money," Chanco testified.

"How?" Randy Oyama, defense attorney, asked.

"Steal," Chanco replied.

"From stores or cars?" Oyama asked.

"Stores," Chanco said.

She says she didn't learn about her child's death until that evening.

Higa's father testified that he, too, was an ice user, and smoked it with his son, Chanco and Mizusawa. They all lived in the same apartment building.

Shelton Higa says his son got paranoid and heard noises while on the drug, but didn't hurt anyone.

"Matthew was an ice addict?" Carlisle asked.

"Yes," Shelton Higa, defendant's father, testified.

"When he jonesed, he got violent?" the prosecutor asked.

"Violent and abusive to furniture, things like that, but not to people," Shelton Higa replied.

The defense argues that the child was already dead when Matthew Higa dropped him from the overpass, and that Mizusawa gave inconsistent statements to police. An officer saw Mizusawa with the toddler less than half an hour before the freeway incident, but Mizusawa says he cared for the boy.

"Did you have feelings towards Cyrus that could be described as paternal and protective?" Carlisle asked.

"Yeah," Mizusawa testified.

"Did you view him as your own child?" the prosecutor asked.

"Yeah," Mizusawa replied.

The evidence portion of the trial ended Thursday without the defendant taking the witness stand. The attorneys will deliver their closing arguments next Thursday.

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