Judge sentences Peter Kema Sr. to 20 years in prison in son's death

Judge sentences Peter Kema Sr. to 20 years in prison in son's death
Published: Jul. 24, 2017 at 10:04 AM HST|Updated: Jul. 24, 2017 at 2:53 PM HST
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HILO, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - The father of Peter Boy Kema was sentenced to 20 years in prison Monday, bringing a degree of closure in one of Hawaii's most notorious murder mysteries.

Peter Kema Sr. was sentenced in Hilo Circuit Court for manslaughter in the death of his 6-year-old son.

Kema Sr.'s wife, Jaylin Kema, along with Peter Boy's family, attended the sentencing hearing, which came a day after family members gathered at a Kona church to remember Peter Boy.

Also in the courtroom Monday were Peter Boy's siblings and his grandfather, Jimmy Acol.

Acol said he thought Kema would have at least acknowledged them.

"I thought he would at least turn to us and apologize, say something. If you're human, say something," Acol said.

Peter Boy's parents were always the only suspects, and despite well-documented child abuse accusations by their other children, Peter and Jaylin Kema weren't charged until 2016.

Jaylin Kema pleaded guilty in the case, and was sentenced to a year behind bars, which she had already served.

Peter Kema Sr. avoided the possibility of life in prison by pleading guilty to manslaughter in April. Under a plea deal, he was required to lead investigators to his son's remains.

He led them to a remote area along the Puna coast, just south of MacKenzie State Park off Highway 137. But despite exhaustive attempts by multiple agencies, there was no sign of Peter Boy's remains.

Shortly after directing police to the spot, Kema Sr. took a lie detector test to prove that he was telling the truth:  That he threw the remains of his 6-year-old son into the ocean in 1997 after he tried to cremate his body.

Big Island Prosecutor Mitch Roth decided to revisit the case in 2014, which ultimately led to the guilty pleas.

He said he wants new laws in place to better protect children.

Roth said the state needs to respond quicker when suspected abuse is reported. He and his team are working on drafting legislation.

Roth also wants change to Department of Education's policies about homeschooling. Roth said abusive parents often pull their children out of school as a way to avoid the child seeking help or educators reporting suspicions to authorities.

Kema was pulled out of public school and so were two other victims in high-profile Hawaii child abuse cases.

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