Suit alleges state's to blame for starvation death of 9-year-old Hilo girl

Suit alleges state's to blame for starvation death of 9-year-old Hilo girl

HILO, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - A new lawsuit blames the state for the death of a 9-year-old Hilo girl who died of starvation in 2016.

Attorneys for the family of Shaelynn Lehano-Stone filed the claim Tuesday.

"We know that this child had been starved before. We know that the state knew about that. We know that the state had taken this child out for her own protection. At this point, we don't know why she was returned," said attorney Randall Rosenberg.

Since the girl was a toddler, the state's Department of Child Welfare Services had been involved, taking the child from her parents multiple times.

The state put her in the care of her grandmother, Henrietta Stone, who lived in the same building as the parents, Tiffany Stone and Kevin Lehano.

"We do know that the grandmother lived in the same location as the abusive parents and it's hard to fathom a reasonable reason for doing such a thing," Rosenberg said.

Shaelynn's parents and grandmother have been charged with murder and are awaiting trial.

The wrongful death suit not only blames CWS, it also names the Department of Education for approving the girl to be homeschooled, despite the previous concerns over her health.

"This was a child who had been abused before. Yet, this was allowed to happen and nobody bothered to check to see how this child was doing," Rosenberg said.

The lawsuit had to be filed before June 28 or the two-year time limit would have expired.

Shaelynn's 13-year-old brother and her 10-year-old sister are currently in foster care. The family is suing for unspecified damages.

Rosenberg said if the state did its part, Shaelynn could still be alive today.

Officials with the Department of Human Services said they have not yet reviewed the complaint and are unable to provide information about pending litigation.

Department of Education officials said it is unable to comment as well.

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