Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Adoptive parents of Isabella Kalua plead not guilty to murder

honolulu police waimanalo isabella kalua 111021
Jennifer Sinco Kelleher/AP
Honolulu Police Maj. Ben Moszkowicz addresses a news conference in Honolulu on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021, where law enforcement officers said they arrested the adopted parents of Isabella "Ariel" Kalua, shown on the screen to the left. The parents, Lehua and Isaac "Sonny" Kalua have been charged with second-degree murder in the girl's death. Police say the girl was killed a month before they reported her missing Sept. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Jennifer Sinco Kelleher)

HONOLULU — A couple accused of killing their 6-year-old adoptive daughter a month before reporting her missing pleaded not guilty to murder Monday.

The body of Isabella Kalua, known by some by her birth name of Ariel, has not been found.

A grand jury indicted Isaac and Lehua Kalua on murder and other charges. They appeared via video from jail for a brief court hearing Monday. Their court-appointed attorneys entered not guilty pleas for them.

lehua kalua isaac kalua isabella HPD
Honolulu Police Department via The Associated Press
These undated photos provided by the Honolulu Police Department show Lehua Kalua (L) and Isaac Kalua (R).

A judge set trial for January.

According to court documents, the girl’s older biological sister, also adopted by the Kaluas, told a detective she saw Isabella in a dog cage, with duct tape on her nose and mouth and not breathing.

Lehua Kalua’s murder charge involves allegedly inflicting the damage that led to Isabella’s death, Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Steve Alm has said, and not taking reasonable steps to seek medical help for her. The husband is charged with what’s referred to as murder by omission, by not helping Isabella, Alm said.

A reward for information about her disappearance or information leading to the recovery of her body has grown to $15,000, Honolulu CrimeStoppers said.

Isaac Kalua's attorney, Donovan Odo, and Lehua Kalua's attorney, Jason Burks, declined to comment outside of court.

Anyone with information is asked to call CrimeStoppers at (808) 955-8300 or send anonymous web tips here.

The Associated Press is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers. Founded in 1846, AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, it's a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members.
Related Stories