The trial began Thursday for a 47-year-old woman from Waimea accused of murder in connection with the 2017 death of 3-year-old Fabian Garett-Garcia.
Chasity Alcosiba-McKenzie was indicted by a Kona grand jury in October 2019 and pleaded not guilty to a single charge of second degree murder, punishable by life in prison with the possibility of parole.
Alcosiba-McKenzie has opted for a court trial, which means there is no jury, and Circuit Court Judge Wendy DeWeese will decide his fate.
Assistant District Attorney Kate Perazich told the court that a manslaughter plea offer had been made to the accused, which was rejected.
“We rejected the offer and did not counter-offer because my client is innocent,” said Alcosiba-McKenzie’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender James Greenberg.
In his opening statement, Perazich said Garett-Garcia and his two younger siblings lived with adoptive parents Alcosiba-McKenzie and her then-husband. As foster parents, they were responsible for the medical care of the children. On the night of Garett-Garcia’s death, July 25, 2017, paramedics who arrived minutes after the 911 call discovered the toddler was not breathing.
Perazich said Alcosiba-McKenzie claimed Garett-Garcia fell on his face that day while wearing virtual reality (VR) glasses. Paramedics observed bruises on the child’s face, neck and chest.
However, Perazich said the autopsy report indicated that the child died of a blunt trauma to the head and that a fall did not cause his death, that the injuries he sustained were akin a serious car accident or a fall from 30 feet.
“Her story does not explain the bruises and internal injuries that the autopsy shows,” Perazich said. “We know something violent happened in this house, and the siblings were too young to tell us what happened.”
Greenberg vehemently denied Perazich’s claims, saying that the claim that the injuries the boy suffered in relation to an accident or a fall from 30 feet “flies in the face, defies and ignores all science and literature. “.
“This is a tragic accident case,” he said. “By all accounts she (Alcosiba-McKenzie) was a great caregiver. “
He claimed Alcosiba-McKenzie saw the toddler on an 18-inch bench wearing the virtual reality glasses when he fell forward and smashed his head on the floor, and appeared to be fine.
“His story has never changed,” he said.
He went on to say that the first medical examiner did not initially rule the case as a homicide. However, a year later, the state medical examiner determined the mode of death after only examining specimens.
“Now she’s in this nightmare,” he said of his client. “She’s innocent.”
During the 911 call played for court, Alcosiba-McKenzie was heard to say that the boy had fallen earlier in the day and was not breathing. The operator explained to her and her husband, Clifton, how to perform CPR until the doctors arrived.
The first paramedic at the scene said the boy was unresponsive and was not breathing. He took over CPR and transported the child to the ambulance where further rescue efforts were carried out. He said he noticed bruises on the child’s body at various stages of healing. Asked about Alcosiba-McKenzie’s behavior, he said she was nonchalant and unfazed.
They transported Garett-Garcia to the North Hawaii Community Hospital where he was pronounced dead. The paramedic notified the police because of the bruises.
Beside the bar, Child Protective Services (CWS) employees testified that Alcosiba-McKenzie was very good at complying with reports and medical appointments for children. She told them that after his fall Garett-Garcia took a nap and started throwing up, but her younger brother had the flu, so she thought he had caught the disease as well.
A social worker testified that the boys were rowdy and hit each other often, and that she had no concerns about Alcosiba-McKenzie as a foster parent, however, the child’s biological parents expressed their worry that children will hurt themselves.
A CFS supervisor said she first received the Garett-Garcia case in 2015 because the house the children lived in with their parents did not have running water, electricity or refrigeration and was considered a dangerous environment. She said Alcosiba-McKenzie was a loving foster parent and never had any issues with previous foster children.
Garett-Garcia’s guardian ad litem, a court-appointed attorney for the child, said she never suspected neglect or abuse at the Alcosiba-McKenzie home and did not report opposed to the other two siblings staying there after the tragedy.
The trial will continue on Tuesday morning.
Alcosiba-McKenzie has been on probation since his arrest in August 2018.
Email Laura Ruminski at [email protected]