Mother in child starvation case found fit for trial

  • From left, Henrietta Stone, Kevin Lehano and Tiffany Stone.

  • Shaelynn Lehano-Stone

Trial has been set for the mother of a 9-year-old Hilo girl authorities say was starved to death almost 3 1/2 years ago.

According to court minutes, Acting Hilo Circuit Judge Kanani Laubach found 36-year-old Tiffany Stone fit to proceed based upon the reports of three mental health professionals. Laubach ordered Stone to appear for trial at 8:30 a.m. March 16, 2020, before Hilo Circuit Judge Henry Nakamoto.

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Stone is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Shaelynn Lehano-Stone. Also charged are the girl’s father, 52-year-old Kevin Lehano, and 62-year-old Henrietta Stone, the maternal grandmother and legal guardian of the girl.

Police and emergency medical personnel were summoned June 28, 2016, to a Kinoole Street apartment almost directly across from Hilo’s central fire station. They reportedly found Lehano-Stone unconscious and severely malnourished. The girl was taken to Hilo Medical Center, where she died a few hours later.

Lehano-Stone, whom court documents state was developmentally disabled, was removed from Hilo Union Elementary School to be home-schooled. The indictments state the girl was denied adequate food, water and medical care from “on or about Oct. 23, 2015,” until her death.

Henrietta Stone, who also is undergoing a court-ordered mental examination, appeared Dec. 6 before Laubach, as well. According to court minutes, none of the three mental health professionals’ reports on her had been received. Laubach ordered her to return to court at 9:30 a.m. Feb. 7, 2020, before Nakamoto.

Attorneys for Lehano and the state have reportedly been in plea negotiations.

On Oct. 28, according to court minutes, Deputy Prosecutor Suzanna Tiapula told Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura the state was supposed to make a formal offer to Lehano’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Sherilyn Tavares, but the offer had not yet been approved by County Prosecutor Mitch Roth. Lehano appeared again before Nakamura on Nov. 25, but a date for “further proceedings” was set for 9 a.m. Jan. 3, 2020, minutes state.

Lehano does not have a trial date. It’s unclear what will take place during his next court appearance as Nakamura retired Dec. 1 and an acting circuit judge will preside on that date.

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All three defendants remain in custody at Hawaii Community Correctional Center in lieu of $100,000 bail.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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