Trial set in 6-year-old’s death

  • Kuuipo and Ashley Nihipali

KAILUA-KONA — Proceedings have resumed in the case of two Puna women accused of murder in the 2018 death of a 6-year-old boy at a Kealakehe apartment complex.

Kuuipo Nihipali and Ashley Nihipali appeared in Kona Circuit Court on Thursday for a return on a mental evaluation of Kuupio Nihipali.

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Kuuipo Nihipali was found fit to stand trial by a panel of three mental health professionals.

Trial will begin May 5 for the two defendants accused of the death of 6-year-old Mazen Kaniela Nihipali-Moniz on Halloween 2018 and abusing him and his siblings for months prior at the Lailani Apartment complex in Kealakehe.

Kuuipo Nihipali is charged with one count second-degree murder; one count second-degree murder as principal and/or accomplice; six counts second-degree felony abuse of a family or household member as principal and/or accomplice; first-degree hindering prosecution as principal and/or accomplice; tampering with evidence as principal and/or accomplice; and two counts first-degree terroristic threatening as principal and/or accomplice, according to an indictment handed down July 31.

Ashley Nihipali is facing one count second-degree murder as principal and/or accomplice; six counts second-degree felony abuse of a family or household member as principal and/or accomplice; first-degree hindering prosecution as principal and/or accomplice; tampering with evidence as principal and/or accomplice; and two counts first-degree terroristic threatening as principal and/or accomplice, according to the indictment.

Each pleaded not guilty to all of the charges following their indictment in early August. Both remain at Hawaii Community Correctional Center in lieu of $1 million bail.

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Nihipali-Moniz was pronounced dead about 5:30 p.m. Oct. 31, 2018, after being taken by medics from the Kailua Fire Station to Kona Community Hospital. The 6-year-old was brought unconscious by a family member to the station.

Police said the child was reportedly involved in an “incident” and had been found unconscious at the Lailani Apartment complex on Manawalea Street. The child’s death was ruled a homicide after autopsy results revealed the cause of death involved trauma.

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