Higa guilty in H-1 death of Hawaii toddler
Circuit Judge Dexter Del Rosario this afternoon found accused child killer Matthew Higa guilty for the death of 23-month-old Cyrus Belt, who was tossed from an H-1 overpass in January 2008.
Del Rosario said Higa "intentionally and knowingly caused the death of Cyrus Belt."
Higa came to court today dressed in a blue aloha shirt decorated with beer bottles and palm trees.
Cyrus Belt's mother, Nancy Chanco, immediately left court following the guilty verdict.
The homicide detective who investigated the case was among the people in the courtroom, which was standing-room only when the verdict was announced.
Following the verdict, no comments were made from Chanco, Matthew Higa's father Shelton Higa nor Aunt Lisa Belt.
Higa faces life with the possibility of parole at sentencing. No sentencing date has been set. Prosecutor Peter Carlisle will seek an "enhanced sentence."
Carlisle said today following the verdict that "there should be no tolerance for the use of crystal methamphetamine."
In his closing argument last week, Carlisle said Higa was under the influence of crystal methamphetamine when he intentionally threw Cyrus to his death from an H-1 Freeway overpass on Jan. 17, 2008.
Defense attorney Randall Oyama argued that Belt was already dead when Higa dropped him from the overpass and suggested that the boyfriend of Belt’s mother might have been responsible for the boy’s death.
Higa lived in a Punchbowl-area apartment, one floor above the unit where Belt lived with his mother and her boyfriend.
The crime, which occurred near noon on a weekday, shocked the state and received national attention.
Chanco, testified that she was at an illegal gaming parlor called the Back Door at Beretania and River streets, gambling and smoking ice on the morning her son died, and later went to Ala Moana Center to "steal from stores" to support her drug habits.
She said she left the apartment about 8 a.m. that day, leaving Cyrus in the care of her father, Lilo Asiata. Asiata did not testify in the trial but told police earlier that he was at home sleeping the morning Cyrus died.