A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed an appeals case involving a woman accused of abusing her 15-month old daughter on a flight from Anchorage to Honolulu, wiping the case from her record entirely.
Samantha Leialoha Watanabe, 37, was convicted in 2015 by a jury in federal court after she was accused of physically and verbally assaulting her child. She served 30 days in jail before her case was eventually overturned on appeal.
Judge Leslie Kobayashi found that the witnesses in the case, including passengers and airline staff, were improperly allowed to give their opinions to the jury about whether what they saw was child abuse.
In a trial, the jury and designated experts are the only ones allowed to factor in opinions into their decision making.
Watanabe’s public defender, Alexander Silvert, argued that the witnesses were biased against her, and that their opinions thus biased the jury.