Emergency doctor testifies in child murder case
The trial of a 47-year-old woman from Waimea charged with the 2017 murder of a toddler from Waimea continued on Wednesday with testimony from the lead investigator and two doctors.
Chasity Alcosiba-McKenzie was indicted by a Kona grand jury in October 2019 in connection with the death of 3-year-old Fabian Garett-Garcia. She has pleaded not guilty to the single charge of second degree murder, which carries a life sentence 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.
Queen’s North Hawaii Community Hospital Dr. Joann Sarubbi, who was the emergency room doctor the night Fabian was brought to Waimea Institution by medics. Sarubbi testified that the toddler was unresponsive and had no heartbeat. She later declared him dead.
Sarubbi noted bruising around the eyes, cheeks, chin and neck. She also noted bruises on her knees, arms and back.
“Multiple bruises on a child are very worrying when they come to the emergency room,” she told court on Wednesday.
Hawaii Police Department Detective Carrie Akina then spoke and recounted the early days of her investigation, including interviews with Alcosiba-McKenzie and video reenactments at Alcosiba-McKenzie’s home.
Akina testified that Alcosiba-McKenzie’s story has remained consistent across multiple interviews, albeit with some gaps in the timeline.
She said Alcosiba-McKenzie told her that Garett-Garcia and his 2-year-old brother had played together and that the bruises on his knees were from a fall he had the day before during a supervised visit with his biological parents.
Akina testified that she recovered a vomit-stained shirt, blanket and sheets from the toddler.
Deputy Public Defender James Greenberg asked Akina if Alcosiba-McKenzie was cooperative with the investigation, to which she replied “yes”.
Greenberg also noted that tissue samples taken during Garett-Garcia’s autopsy were lost in the storage facility. The state did not object or cross-examine the matter.
The state then closed his case, and DeWeese denied a defense motion to acquit Alcosiba-McKenzie.
A pediatrician from the Paniolo Pediatric and Family Medicine Clinic in Waimea was then introduced by the defense. The doctor testified that Alcosiba-McKenzie brought Garett-Garcia and his siblings to the clinic on several occasions for well checks and other minor issues. He said they always showed up for appointments and there had never been any signs of abuse or neglect.
The trial continues today with defense attorney Greenberg interviewing an expert witness on behalf of Alcosiba-McKenzie. Alcosiba-McKenzie said she has not yet decided whether she will take a stand in her own defense.
The state maintains that Garett-Garcia died at the hands of Alcosiba-McKenzie.
Alcosiba-McKenzie had reported that the toddler fell from an 18-inch bench while wearing virtual reality glasses and had no symptoms other than vomiting until she found him unconscious for a few hours later. She claimed her sister had the flu before, showing the same symptoms, so she assumed he had the same.
Police arrested Alcosiba-McKenzie, who was the caregiver on suspicion of attempted second-degree murder in August 2018, and then released her. Charges were not formally filed until after an indictment in October 2019, which stated that Alcosiba-McKenzie intentionally or knowingly caused Garett-Garcia’s death, including by willfully failing to obtain medical services. reasonable, necessary and available. The indictment came after a Honolulu medical examiner ruled on the mansion for homicide a year after Garett-Garcia’s death.
Alcosiba-McKenzie has been on probation since his arrest following the indictment.
Meanwhile, a wrongful death lawsuit filed in April 2019 by Garett-Garcia’s parents Sherri-Ann Garett and Juben Garcia, against the state’s Department of Social Services, Catholic charities, caregivers licensed by the state Chasity Alcosiba-McKenzie and Clifton McKenzie and others, continues. A motion granting additional time for plaintiffs to submit a pre-trial statement was extended in March.
No trial date has been set for the civil litigation.
The civil suit seeks unspecified monetary damages, which attorney Jeffrey Foster, attorney for Garett-Garcia’s parents Sherri-Ann Garett and Juben Garcia said, would be determined by a jury.
Clifton McKenzie has not been arrested or charged with any crime in connection with the incident and is only a defendant in the civil litigation.