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Puna man arrested for 2011 murder of toddler

January 28, 2014 - 3:10pm

Police have arrested a 38-year-old Mountain View man in connection with a 2011 murder in Hilo.

At 9:40 a.m. Tuesday, acting on a tip, police arrested Xavier J. Cortez Jr., also known as Pee Wee Cortez, on the strength of a sealed arrest warrant for second-degree murder, according to the Hawaii County Police Department. He was located at a home in the Livingston subdivision in Mountain View and taken into custody without incident.

On Jan. 22, the case was presented to a grand jury, which returned an indictment for second-degree murder, according to police. At the request of police and the prosecutor, the indictment was sealed while police actively searched for Cortez.

Cortez was held without bail until he made his initial court appearance Tuesday afternoon.

On Jan. 2, 2011, police received a report that 19-month-old Pomaikai Ferreira had been taken to Hilo Medical Center and was experiencing difficulties breathing, according to police. She was transferred by air ambulance to The Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu, where she died on Jan. 9, 2011.

Cortez was initially arrested for first-degree assault on the day of the incident, according to police. He was later released pending further investigation.

The medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Ferreira ruled the death a homicide as a result of crainiocerebral injuries due to, or as a consequence of, abusive head trauma.

Get the full story in the Wednesday edition of West Hawaii Today.