After two decades, “Peter Boy” Kema’s disappearance is no longer a mystery.
On Wednesday, his father, Peter Kema Sr., changed his plea to guilty to charges of manslaughter and hindering prosecution.
The Hawaii County Prosecutor’s Office released a new complaint against the 46-year-old Wednesday morning, and the plea change was made official in a court hearing that afternoon.
“Are you pleading guilty because after discussing all the evidence and receiving advice of the law from your lawyer, you believe that you are guilty?” asked Judge Greg Nakamura.
“Yes I am, Your Honor,” Kema responded.
Peter Boy’s grandfather and two older siblings were among those in the courtroom to witness the proceedings.
The 6-year-old disappeared on Hawaii Island in 1997. Prosecutors say the key part in making this deal was being able to finally locate his remains.
As Nakamura stated in court, “The state agrees that it will recommend concurrent sentences between the two counts if you provide information which results in the successful recovery of Peter Kema Jr.’s body or, if the body cannot be recovered, that you pass a polygraph examination regarding the location of a scene.”
“How confident are you that you’ll be able to find what everybody’s been hoping to find?” KHON2 asked Hawaii County Prosecutor Mitch Roth.
“It’s hard,” Roth replied. “There is a possibility that we’re not going to find the body, and that’s why we’ve asked for him to find the polygraph examination, and we’re pretty confident that we’ll get something.”
Kema is scheduled to be sentenced June 9.
Roth says if Kema had gone to trial and was convicted of murder, he would have faced a life sentence.
Instead, he now faces up to 20 years in prison and/or a $15,000 fine for the manslaughter charge, and five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine for hindering prosecution.
Roth says as part of the deal, Kema must serve a minimum of six years and eight months before he is eligible for parole, however “I have a lot of faith in the parole board that he’ll probably do most of that 20 years, if not all of the 20 years.
“Again, some people may not be happy with this decision, but my key people I’m concerned about is the family, and this is what the family wanted,” Roth said.
Roth tells us that officers with the Hawaii Police Department, who put in so much time and effort to make this happen, also approved the plea deal. Capt. Randall Medeiros is among them, having worked the case from the beginning.
“It’s the relief that we now know as opposed to, we were confident in the investigation that we had a very good idea of what happened, but the relief of him finally saying we were correct,” Medeiros said.
Former Honolulu prosecutor Peter Carlisle agrees.
“It was circumstantial case. It would one that would be difficult to prove,” he said. “More importantly, by doing this by plea, there’s never going to be an appeal, never going to be a long process of appeal, never going to change between now and as long as he’s in prison. Those are advantages.
“The disadvantage is people are going to say that he should have gotten a life sentence,” Carlisle added. “The fact of the matter is that certainly would be a far better resolution in my opinion, but the road to getting that and having it always in the appellate courts with potential of reversal creates all sorts of difficulties in the long run.”
Peter Boy’s mother, Jaylin Kema, pleaded guilty to manslaughter last year.