Hawaii Circuit Court Judge Michael Town ruled that a woman who took crystal methamphetamine five days before and two days after the birth of her child can be charged for manslaughter in the child’s death, the Honolulu Star Bulletin reported June 4.
Tayshea Aiwohi, 31, faces 20 years in prison in connection with the death of her two-day-old son. An autopsy found that the baby’s body contained toxic levels of amphetamines.
Under Hawaiian law, a crime exists if the child is “born alive” and “reckless” behavior is the cause of death. According to Deputy Prosecutor Glenn Kim, if Aiwohi had a miscarriage because of her drug use, she would not be facing manslaughter charges.
“This is a flawed ruling,” said Deputy Public Defender Todd Eddins, who is representing Aiwohi. “Conduct perpetrated on an unborn child is not a crime at the time it is committed.”
Eddins argued that most of the crystal methamphetamine that affected the baby was delivered while he was in his mother’s womb and not legally a person. “We are highly optimistic that we will prevail at trial and, if not there, our appellate courts will find this ruling was erroneous,” he said.
The case is the first in the state to go to trial that involved the behavior of a woman during pregnancy that killed or injured a baby who was delivered alive.