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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, June 27, 2001

Prosecutors pursue two theories in Kaua'i baby's death

By Jan TenBruggencate
Advertiser KauaÎi Bureau

LIHU'E, Kaua'i — Prosecutors are proceeding with two different theories in the murder case against a woman whose newborn child was found dead in a trash can at her home April 30.

Christine A. Robles, 21, pleaded innocent yesterday to second-degree murder in the infant's death. A trial is scheduled for Sept. 10.

The grand jury indictment proposes two courses of prosecution to pursue — one arguing that Robles intentionally caused the death of her baby boy; the other that she caused the death by failing to meet her legal duty to take action to protect the child.

Deputy Prosecutor Craig De Costa would not comment on the circumstances leading to the two theories, either of which could be used to support a murder prosecution.

Robles is being represented by private attorney Al Castillo. He said he had just received police investigators' reports on the case and was not prepared to comment.

Police indicated Robles was living with her parents at a Pala'a Street home in Koloa and she apparently gave birth there, perhaps without assistance.

Neighbors called an ambulance about noon after Robles was found bleeding severely.

Hospital officials said she appeared to have recently given birth, and they instructed police officers and ambulance workers to return to the home to look for the infant.

After a search, they found the newborn's body in an outdoor trash container. The child was posthumously named Benny Robles, the identification listed in the indictment.

A Maui forensic pathologist, Dr. Anthony Manoukian, conducted an autopsy and concluded that the newborn died of asphyxiation. He concluded the baby was breathing after birth but the breathing was then stopped, although it was not clear whether that occurred by suffocation, choking or other means. He found that the infant appeared to have been healthy and showed no outward signs of injury.

Robles was arrested after she returned home after her hospitalization. She is free on $20,000 bail.