Trial date set for couple charged with murdering 6-year-old adoptive daughter

Trial was set for January 31, but legal experts say with courts so crowded it will not happen that quickly.
Published: Nov. 29, 2021 at 7:10 AM HST|Updated: Nov. 29, 2021 at 5:45 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Waimanalo couple accused of killing a 6-year old girl they fostered then adopted were back in court Monday to submit not guilty pleas.

Isaac and Lehua Kalua appeared in court via video conference from Oahu Community Correctional Center. They did not say anything during the hearing.

Their court-appointed attorneys entered “not guilty” pleas on their behalf and requested a jury trial. It’s scheduled to begin Jan. 31.

The couple has been indicted in the murder of Isabella “Ariel” Kalua.

Authorities said the girl was abused for months and kept in a dog cage before she died.

According to court records, she died with duct tape over her nose and mouth.

Police believe she was murdered a month before she was reported missing.

Isaac and Lehua Kalua face an enhanced sentence of life without the possibility parole because Isabella was under 8 years old when she died.

Legal expert Victor Bakke, who is not part of this case, said that’s one reason the couple are being held without bail for now.

“They don’t appear to be a danger to the community at large,” he said.

“But what’s more important is that because they’re facing such a severe sentence, if they were to be convicted, that is a strong motive for them to flee the state.”

A hearing will likely be set in the next few weeks to determine if the Kaluas should be allowed to the opportunity to bail out.

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