10 years ago, a little boy's heinous death shocked Hawaii

10 years ago, a little boy's heinous death shocked Hawaii
(Image: Kim Fassler/Facebook)
(Image: Kim Fassler/Facebook)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Ten years ago on Wednesday, Hawaii mourned the loss of a little boy — killed in an unthinkable way.

Cyrus Belt was just 23 months old when a neighbor, high on crystal meth, plucked him up and threw him from H-1 Freeway's Miller Street overpass.

The boy, wearing a t-shirt and a diaper, fell 30 feet into the path of an oncoming delivery truck.

His killer, Matthew Higa, will never be set free.

Higa, who is at Saguaro Correctional Center in Arizona, was sentenced to 200 years behind bars. That sentence was upheld by the Hawaii Paroling Authority when he appealed it in 2012.

At the time, Higa said he remembered carrying the little boy and felt bad about his death. But he maintained he didn't kill the child.

At trial, his defense attorneys also argued that Belt was already dead when Higa found him.

The heinous murder on Jan. 17, 2008, garnered headlines nationally and helped shine a spotlight on Hawaii's rampant crystal methamphetamine epidemic.

Higa admitted when he was arrested that he was a chronic "ice" user.

His father also abused the drug, and so did Belt's mother and her boyfriend.

After Belt's death, hundreds left balloons, signs and plush animals at the Miller Street overpass where he was killed. The tribute got so big it had to be removed, as state officials feared it posed a distraction to drivers.

And two weeks after Belt's death — and two days after what would have been his second birthday — Cyrus Nainoa Tupa'i Belt was buried at Hawaiian Memorial Park in a white, 4-foot-long casket. His gravesite is on a hillside in an area of the cemetery known as Babyland III.

On the gravestone: "Forever in our hearts."

On Wednesday night, a small group of mourners will again gather at the Miller Street overpass — as they have done every year since Belt's death — to light a few candles and say prayers for a boy who they say should be remembered for his beautiful, short life and not for his horrible death.

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