CPS had been in contact with Hawaii girl starved to death since she was a toddler

Published: Jul. 14, 2017 at 7:44 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 17, 2017 at 8:12 PM HST
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(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HILO, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - State Child Protective Services had been in contact with the family of a 9-year-old girl who starved to death on the Big Island since she was a toddler.

The girl was failing to thrive, sources tell Hawaii News Now.

But still her parents — Kevin Lehano, 49, Tiffany Stone, 33 — were allowed to have daily contact with her.

The two made their first appearance in court Monday, after being indicted for the June 28, 2016, death of their child. The both pleaded not guilty to murder.

Stone's trial is scheduled for Nov. 13; Lehano's trial is set for December 4.

A court appearance for the girl's grandmother, 59-year-old Henrietta Stone, was postponed until Tuesday.

The girl's parents and her grandmother were arrested last week for allegedly starving the 9-year-old to death.

Sources say the girl was not able to leave the family's Hilo home.

She was found unconscious and emaciated at their apartment in Hilo. She died a few hours later at the hospital.

In court Monday, the child's parents said little. A judge upheld their $100,000 bail.

Hawaii News Now has learned that the girl's grandmother had custody of her, but that the girl's parents lived in the apartment complex too.

According to an indictment, the three are accused of denying the girl food, water and medical treatment for about a year before her death.

Family members say they last saw the child alive on Thanksgiving 2015.

That same month, the girl was pulled out of Hilo Union Elementary to attend home school, even though her parents have no background in the field of education, and sources say, no ability to provide that. The DOE sent a statement to Hawaii News Now saying once the child is approved to be homeschooled, "The DOE has no authority to conduct home visits to oversee how the child is being educated."

In a separate statement, state Department of Human Services Director Pankaj Bhanot said he couldn't release specifics on the case involving the 9-year-old, citing confidentiality laws.

"Child Welfare Services works daily to support the safety, permanency and well-being of Hawaii's children on statewide," he said. "Our role is to strengthen families so they can provide a safe home for their children."

Last week, Hawaii County Police Captain Randy Medeiros said that this is one of the more heinous child abuse cases he has seen.

"Without getting into details, the child died as a result of severe malnutrition," he said.

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