Sunday | August 28, 2016
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Grandmother: State could have saved Maui boy, 4

Grandmother: State could have saved Maui boy, 4

HONOLULU (AP) — The state failed to protect a 4-year-old boy who died this week on Maui, his grandmother told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser ( ).

Zion McKeown died Wednesday after his father brought him to Maui Memorial Medical Center when he was found unresponsive in the shower of their Wailuku home. An initial examination by emergency room doctors showed the boy suffered severe blunt force trauma to his internal organs, police said.

The boy’s father, Kyle McKeown, and his live-in girlfriend, Grace Lee-Nakamoto, who is not the mother, are charged with second-degree murder. They were ordered held on $500,000 each in court Friday. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.

They denied having any knowledge of how the boy was injured.

Public Defender William “Pili” McGrath, who is representing Lee-Nakamoto, said attorneys for the couple have yet to see the police report. “We’re taking the charge seriously,” McGrath said. “Of course, it’s very sad. This kind of thing is not common on Maui.”

McKeown’s court-appointed attorney did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

The grandmother, Maryann Rooney, said Zion was returned to an allegedly abusive parent after the state took custody of him when was severely injured at 6 months old. She said she called Child Welfare Services about a year ago to report that Zion should not be in his parent’s care.

Kyle McKeown is the former boyfriend of Zion’s mother, who is Rooney’s daughter. Rooney said she protested when Zion’s mother regained custody when he was 3. A few months ago, the mother left Zion on Maui with McKeown, Rooney said.

“I want Child Welfare Services to admit that they were wrong in giving this child back to his parents,” Rooney, of Waipio, said. “They had a case 3 years ago, they dropped the ball on it and he’s dead.”

The state Department of Human Services, which oversees Child Welfare Services, wouldn’t confirm or discuss prior cases involving Zion because of confidentiality laws. The department is investigating the death.

Rooney said her daughter has psychiatric problems and a history of abusing her children. The boy’s mother, who now lives on Oahu, couldn’t be reached for comment.


Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser,