Higa's father says he smoked ice with son, Cyrus Belt's mother
By Jim Dooley
Advertiser Staff Writer
Testimony in the murder trial of Matthew Higa ended this morning, leaving unresolved the questions of how and why Higa took 23-month-old Cyrus Belt from his Punchbowl area apartment and threw him off a nearby freeway overpass.
Witnesses today did establish that virtually every adult in Cyrus’ life was smoking crystal methamphetamine in the hours before and after the little boy died.
Closing arguments in the nonjury trial will be delivered before Circuit Judge Dexter Del Rosario on Feb. 4.
Shelton Higa, the father of the defendant, testified that he was a regular ice user, occasionally smoking the drug with his son and with Nancy Chanco, the mother of Cyrus, and her boyfriend, Shane Mizusawa.
Cyrus and his family lived in a downstairs apartment in the same Iolani Avenue building where the Higas lived.
Matthew Higa, 24, is accused of murdering Cyrus the morning of Jan. 17, 2008, by throwing the toddler off the Miller Street overpass to the H-1 freeway 30 feet below where he was run over by a two-ton delivery truck.
Shelton Higa told defense lawyer Randall Oyama that his son had been violent in the past when he was “jonesing” from the need for more drugs, but the violence had only been directed “at furniture.”
Shelton Higa said he had met Chanco, the mother of the boy, at illegal gambling parlors and that she had helped him find the apartment at Iolani Avenue.
Chanco acknowledged on the witness stand today that she was an ice user when Cyrus died but had left the apartment about 8 a.m. that morning, leaving him 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.
Chanco said that when she left her apartment, she went to an illegal gaming parlor called the “Back Door” at Beretania and River streets to gamble and smoke ice and saw Shelton Higa there that morning.
She said she and Mizusawa later spent more than five hours at Ala Moana Center trying to “steal from stores” to support their drug habits.
Mizusawa, Chanco’s then-boyfriend, also testified, admitting being an ice user and seller.
He said he considered Cyrus to be “like a son” to him.
About 11 a.m. the morning Cyrus died, a police officer had found the little boy sitting in the middle of Iolani Avenue.
Mizusawa retrieved the child from the officer, explaining that Cyrus had run away while Mizusawa was unloading his car.
Mizusawa said this morning that after getting Cyrus from the officer, he “yelled and swore” at Higa, who was standing down the street.
Asked by Prosecutor Peter Carlisle why he was angry at Higa, Mizusawa said, “I thought he cared for Cyrus and if Cyrus was in the middle of the street he would be watching (out) for him.”
Matthew Higa did not testify at the trial.
He told police and medical personnel earlier that a woman had given Cyrus to him and told him to throw the child off the freeway.
Oyama has argued during the trial that Cyrus was unconscious or dead when Higa hurled him from the overpass.