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Woman seeks lower bail in abuse case


Woman seeks lower bail in abuse case

November 14, 2008 

Janice Peterson

Daily herald    

Attorneys for a woman charged with physically abusing children in her care have filed a request to lower her bail.

Mary Heath and her live-in boyfriend, Sekoa Aiono, are charged with nine counts of child abuse and one count of aggravated sexual assault of a child.

Heath's 9-year-old niece and 8-year-old nephew were found nearly naked, malnourished and alone at their Eagle Mountain home Oct. 14. They were taken to Primary Children's Medical Center where they were treated for malnutrition and physical injuries. The couple were later charged with sexual abuse after a physician found signs of abuse on the boy.

In a motion filed in the 4th District Court, Heath's attorney, Ann Boyle, asked for Heath's bail to be reduced from $50,000 cash because there is little evidence sexual abuse took place.

"This charge is based on a statement made by a young, inexperienced doctor, Brian Fulks MD, who received his license to practice medicine in January 2008," Boyle wrote.

Boyle argued the emergency room physician who initially examined the boy did not note any injury consistent with sexual abuse. That doctor, she wrote, has been licensed since 2000.

Heath's initial bail was set at $25,000 cash or bond, but the bail was increased to $50,000 cash with the sexual abuse charge. Boyle asked in her motion that the woman's bail be reduced to $10,000 bondable so her client can afford to pay the bail.

"Reduction of bail is appropriate in this case because the defendant, Mary Heath, has no prior criminal record and no history of failing to appear at court proceedings," she argued.

Heath was in court Thursday for a bail reduction hearing, but the hearing was continued because of new evidence. Prosecutor Tim Taylor said there have been new interviews that have been given to prosecutors that defense attorneys have not had time to consider.

"We just got some additional discovery that we wanted to give to them," he said.

A bail reduction hearing was set for Heath on Nov. 20, at which time Taylor said he plans to call detectives as witnesses on the matter. A preliminary hearing has also been set for Heath and Aiono for Dec. 23.

Judge James Taylor questioned whether Aiono's attorney, David Drake, would be physically able to be at the hearing, as he was hospitalized with heart problems and did not attend the hearing. Boyle represented Aiono for the hearing and she and Taylor said Drake had asserted he would be able to be at the hearing.

Judge Taylor said he understood Drake was ill, but he did not want to forfeit the defendants' right to a hearing within 10 days. Aiono is in custody and has the right to a speedy trial.

"Mr. Drake isn't the one standing in front of me in chains," Judge Taylor said.

Aiono waived his right to a preliminary hearing within 10 days but requested the hearing take place before the end of the year. Attorneys said the hearing for the pair will be combined and will last for several hours.

Tusi Aiono, Sekoa Aiono's brother, said it is hard for the public to understand what is going on because they do not know the defendants. All they know is what the media has put out about the case, but if they knew Aiono's side of the story the public would understand the situation better.

"The time will come for us to make that statement," he said.

2008 Nov 14