Man pleads guilty to assault in 2003 infant death


A 34-year-old Hawi man recently pleaded guilty to assault in connection with the 2003 death of his 2-month-old son in Ka‘u.

Gilbert G. Dancel Jr. entered the guilty plea to second-degree assault — a class C felony — before 3rd Circuit Court Chief Judge Ronald Ibarra on Jan. 15. His sentencing is set for 8:30 a.m. Feb. 8 before Ibarra.

Second-degree assault carries a maximum five years incarceration and maximum fines of $10,000, according to Hawaii Revised Statutes.

Dancel was indicted in March 2012 by a Big Island grand jury on one count manslaughter in connection with the March 24, 2003, death of Kaikela Medeiros-Dancel, according to 3rd Circuit Court records. An amended complaint filed earlier this month changed the charge to second-degree assault.

The amended complaint followed motions by Dancel’s public defender to dismiss the case for the length of time between the incident and indictment and destruction of evidence. According to the motions, the indictment was delayed, coming nine years, three months and 22 days after the incident; and autopsy X-rays used to determine the cause of death had been destroyed by Hilo Medical Center in 2005.

The statute of limitations to initiate legal proceedings in a manslaughter case is 10 years, then Prosecuting Attorney Charlene Iboshi said about the delay shortly after Dancel was indicted.

Medeiros-Dancel, who resided in Kahuku, died of “abusive head trauma,” according to a 2003 Hawaii Police Department statement and West Hawaii Today archives. Dancel had summoned emergency help for the boy, saying the infant was having trouble breathing, but Medeiros-Dancel later died at Ka‘u Hospital.

Police initially investigated the case as a coroner’s inquest, but reclassified it to a manslaughter investigation after an autopsy indicated the boy died of abuse, according to police.