by Andrew Walden
Foster child Ariel Sellers was allegedly murdered in Waimanalo, August 18, 2021, by her adoptive parents; four-time convicted felon Isaac Kalua III and his wife, Drug Court graduate, Lehua (Kanahele) Kalua.
Her body has never been found and no court has yet decreed a formal determination of death.
With the two-year statute of limitations rapidly ticking down, Ariel’s estate is being adjudicated via probate case 1CLP-23-0000509 in Oahu First Circuit Court. In response to an Emergency Ex-Parte petition “given the rapidly approaching expiration of a statute of limitations,” Circuit Judge R. Mark Browning advanced to July 27, 2023, a hearing on the formal determination of death via a ‘Petition for Adjudication of Intestacy and Appointment of personal representative.’
The Estate of Ariel Sellers holds only one significant asset--the right to pursue civil litigation against the State, the Kaluas, and other parties deemed responsible for Ariel ending her short life locked in a dog cage asphyxiated with duct tape.
The Emergency Petition states: “Petitioner is attempting to preserve the Decedent’s claims and needs standing to initiate said claims on behalf of the Estate.” Cummings is expected to quickly file a civil suit if Judge Browning approves the Petition.
As argued in the Petition, filed June 13, 2023, both the Kaluas and Ariel’s homeless meth-addicted biological parents are precluded from any inheritance--leaving only Ariel’s four siblings--all juveniles--identified only by initials: IMK, ILNK, APJ, APS.
The move to Probate Court opens up some records from years of secret Family Court proceedings surrounding the Kalua foster home.
Probate Court filings include a copy of the February 14, 2023, Family Court Order appointing Nicole Cummings Esq as Guardian Ad Litem for Ariel’s four siblings “for the purpose of pursuing any and all actionable tort claim(s) related to the child(ren)’s placement in foster custody and/or subsequent adoption.”
A search on E Court Kokua for the case # 1FM221000191 reveals only that it was filed April 20, 2022, “Case Title Redacted.” The Family Court Order filed in Probate Court uses slightly different initials, indicating the case is “In The Interest of: IK DOB 2009, IK DOB 2014, IK DOB 2018 and AJ DOB 2020.”
Public only because it is evidence in Probate Court, the Order is signed by Family Court Judge Jessi L. K. Hall. Typically, one Family Court Judge oversees interrelated Family Court cases, thus implying Hall may be responsible for some or all of the Kalua adoption and foster cases.
Hall is currently seeking reappointment for another ten-year term as an Oahu Family Court Judge. Will knowledge of her involvement with the Kalua case impact the re-nomination process?
UPDATE July 28, 2023: Missing Waimanalo Girl Declared Dead, Opening Path For Suit Against State