Why did it take 17 years for the Peter Boy Kema case to move forward?

Why did it take 17 years for the Peter Boy Kema case to move forward?
Allan Acol and Lina Acol
Allan Acol and Lina Acol

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - New evidence. That's what is now driving the murder case of Peter Boy Kema, Junior.

But a lot of evidence has always been there, so why did it take 17 years for the case to move forward?

That's a question many, including Peter Boy's family, have been asking for awhile.

"I just wish they could just do something," says Allan Acol, Peter Boy's brother, "That's all we ask, is for them to do something."

Legal experts say it is a difficult case.

The boy's parents have always been the only suspects, but they have never been arrested.

One issue, the 6-year old Hilo boy's body has never been found.

"You don't know the when, where and why," says former Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Peter Carlisle of typical cases without a victim's body.

Carlisle successfully tried a high-profile murder case, without a body, years ago. Kirk Lankford is now serving a life sentence for killing a Japanese tourist in 2007.

Carlisle says it is possible if the supporting evidence is strong.

Part of that evidence, thousands of pages of CPS documents showing a brutal pattern of abuse of Peter Boy and his siblings by the parents.

There is a cooperating eye witness, Peter Boy's sister, Lina Acol, but she was only four when the alleged crime happened.

In her only media interview, Lina tells Hawaii News Now that she saw her mother kiss the lips of her brother, who was lying on the bed, motionless. She says her father was beating Peter Boy's chest at the same time. It wasn't until years later that she realized that her parents were performing CPR on his lifeless body. She says she also remembers her father burying a box.

Lina has more clarity now than ever before. She believes the details have become stronger as she has gotten older.

"A 4-year old is clearly not going to know CPR so what she's doing is, she's retrospectively reconstructing this in adult terms and reinterpreting," says Dr. Robert Marvit, a forensic psychiatrist who has testified in court many times.

He says Lina can still be a good witness despite the increase in detail in her story.

"We need to prove our case beyond a reasonable doubt, that's our bottom line," says Hawaii County Prosecuting Attorney Mitch Roth.

He believes the case will make it to the courtroom.

Peter Boy's family is grateful that police haven't given up and that Roth is going to try to prosecute, despite the challenges.

One more issue, Roth will only get one shot. If there is a not-guilty verdict for murder, he cannot try again. And the statute of limitations has run out to try lesser crimes.

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