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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Hawaii

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Oahu Woman Given Prison Term For Assaulting Her Child On Alaska-Hawaii Flight

HONOLULU – U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin S.C. Chang today sentenced Samantha Lealoha Watanabe, 38, of Oahu, to 30 days of imprisonment and one year of supervised release, including 90 days of home detention for assaulting her 15-month old child while onboard an Alaska Airlines flight from Anchorage to Honolulu on March 3, 2015.

Florence T. Nakakuni, United States Attorney for the District of Hawaii, said that a jury found Watanabe guilty following a one-week trial in December 2015. According to evidence presented in court, Watanabe repeatedly hit her child in the face with a stuffed doll; hit her child’s face with an open hand; and pulled out tufts of her hair, among other acts. Passengers and flight attendants testified that they did not observe the child do anything to warrant that treatment.

Judge Chang noted that five of Watanabe’s other children had been permanently removed from her custody; that the victim in this case was no longer in her custody; and that Watanabe had just given birth to a seventh child.

The investigation resulting in this prosecution was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Marc A. Wallenstein and Thomas J. Brady conducted the prosecution.

Updated May 4, 2016