Family members, a forensics expert, and a psychologist will be among those testifying in the murder trial of Peter Kema Sr.
The list of witnesses filed by Hawaii Island prosecutors in Hilo Circuit Court includes more than 50 names.
Kema is accused of killing his son, “Peter Boy” Kema Jr., who disappeared 20 years ago when he was six years old.
Kema’s wife, Jaylin, the boy’s mother, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and agreed to testify against Kema.
Jury selection starts in less than a month.
Family members will likely testify about the abuse Peter Boy had to endure, and experts will tie that into the child’s death.
Jaylin Kema’s testimony will carry a lot of weight in the trial. During her plea agreement in December, deputy prosecutor Ricky Roy Damerville said in court that she had lots of opportunities to report the abuse and get help for her son.
But because she was abused by her husband, Damerville said she was too afraid “and based upon that fear, she declined to acquiesce in allowing the child to be taken out of the home.”
Other family members who could testify are Peter Boy’s grandfather, James Acol, and his three siblings, Lina Acol, Allan Acol, and Chauntelle Woods. Records show that they reported the abuse to the state Department of Human Services after Peter Boy’s disappearance.
Prosecutors plan to call on experts to prove their case, which include several detectives with the Hawaii Police Department, psychologist Steven Choy, and forensic pathologist Dr. Kanthi De Alwis.
The psychologist was under court order to evaluate the family after Peter Boy disappeared. During his evaluation, one of Peter Boy’s sisters, Lina Acol, told him that she saw Peter Boy’s body in a box in the Kemas’ closet.
That body has never been found, but De Alwis is expected to testify that the cause of death can still be determined using medical records and witness reports.
Damerville told the court the same thing in December, referring to Peter Boy by his nickname, “Pepe.”
He said the “forensic pathologist would testify that given the descriptions of Pepe’s injuries, Pepe died as a result of septic shock.”
Also included in the witness list is a former KHON2 reporter who interviewed Peter and Jaylin Kema shortly after their son disappeared.