Mother pleads not guilty to assaulting child on plane - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Mother pleads not guilty to assaulting child on plane

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By JENNIFER SINCO KELLEHER
Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) - A mother is pleading not guilty to allegations that she physically and verbally assaulted her 15-month-old daughter during an Alaska Airlines flight from Anchorage, Alaska, to Honolulu.

A criminal complaint says Samantha Leialoha Watanabe cursed at the toddler, smacked her in the back of the head, pinched her and pulled out bits of her hair during the May 3 flight. A passenger told the FBI Watanabe stuck a wad of cash in the girl's diaper.

Watanabe didn't say anything during her arraignment Friday in federal court in Honolulu. Her federal defender, Alexander Silvert, declined to comment after the hearing.

A judge says Watanabe must enter a residential drug treatment program when space becomes available. Trial is scheduled for July.

If convicted, the Hawaii resident faces up to a year in jail.

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