Prosecutors: toddler's murder is crime that 'deserves to live in - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Prosecutors: toddler's murder is crime that 'deserves to live in infamy'

Matthew Higa Matthew Higa
Prosecutor, Peter Carlisle Prosecutor, Peter Carlisle
Defense, Randy Oyama Defense, Randy Oyama
Cyrus Belt Cyrus Belt

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A man convicted of murdering an Oahu toddler by throwing him off a freeway overpass two years ago was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole Wednesday. Prosecutors called it a crime that deserves to live in infamy.

Matthew Higa continues to maintain his innocence.

By leaving Higa in prison until his death, prosecutors say he will be an ongoing example of what can happen with crystal methamphetamine use. But as the life sentence was being handed down, the defense continued to say the presiding judge got it wrong when he returned a guilty verdict.

Cyrus Belt was living in a world of ice addicts, when his life came to an abrupt and violent end. At the sentencing of his convicted murderer, the little boy's family was nowhere to be seen.

"They were always more with crystal meth than they were with the kid," Peter Carlisle, Honolulu prosecutor, said. "So it doesn't surprise me that they're not here."

Prosecutors say Matthew Higa was high on crystal meth, when he flung 23-month-old Cyrus off a bridge and onto the H-1 Freeway three stories down.

"In the dismal history of crystal methamphetamine in Hawaii, the United States and even internationally, the crime committed by this defendant deserves to live in infamy for decades to come," Carlisle said.

Higa declined to speak at his sentencing because he's appealing the judge's verdict.

"No, sir," was all he said during the hearing.

The defense maintains the child was already dead, and that someone else did the killing.

"We have a hard time understanding that there were two witnesses who basically saw this event, both of them described the child as being dead or lifeless as it fell," Randy Oyama, defense attorney, said.

Circuit Judge Dexter Del Rosario handed down a life term in prison with a mandatory minimum of 15 years because the victim was under the age of eight.

"He has no history of violence or anything, so I'm sure he's pretty worried about what's going to come," Oyama said.

Prosecutors say they'll ask the Hawaii parole board to set a higher minimum term -- 200 years -- before Higa can be considered for release.

"He will always be a risk to public safety and he will always be a risk to going back to crystal methamphetamine," Carlisle said. "That's a chance that nobody can take."

Higa will have another lawyer handling his appeal. Oyama withdrew as counsel at the end of the hearing, saying Higa no longer has the ability to pay him.

Judge finds Higa guilty of murdering toddler, prosecutors want extended prison term

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

H-1 freeway shuts down as police investigate unthinkable murder

Copyright 2010 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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