HILO, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - The mother of "Peter Boy" Kema made a long overdue apology Tuesday for the death of her 6-year-old son in 1997 and for putting her other children through "a nightmare."
Jaylin Kema broke down in tears as she faced a judge for her sentencing on manslaughter and theft charges.
"I have caused my children to live in the nightmare and I have denied them the healthy childhood and I am so, so very sorry," she said.
"I know I deserve the punishment of imprisonment. For far too long, I kept a secret of the abuse of my children, especially Peter Boy."
Destitute and in bad health, Kema avoided more prison time. She was sentenced to the year in jail that she had already served for manslaughter. She also received 10 years of probation.
Her estranged husband, Peter Kema Sr. faces up to 20 years in jail, also for manslaughter.
Brian De Lima, Jaylin Kema's attorney, told the court that his client intends to divorce her husband.
"Many will say Jaylin Kema deserves prison, that the plea agreement is too lenient. Perhaps," said De Lima. "The reality is Jaylin Kema has been and will remain, emotionally imprisoned by the choices she made the day Peter Boy was abused and died."
Prosecutors revealed that Kema had a chance to make things right 14 years ago but chose not to.
"In 2003, there was a grand jury proceeding set up because we thought she was going forward and then she just backed out at the last minute," said deputy Prosecuting Attorney Rick Damerville.
But she did finally cooperate last year in return for the one-year jail term.
"It's about time for you, your family, and the community there's a sense of closure for all involved," said Circuit Judge Henry Nakamoto.