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Hawaii prosecutors subpoena Army records of complaints about babysitter before baby’s death

Prosecutors in Hawaii are digging into complaints the Army received about a babysitter in military housing before the death of a baby in her care at Aliamanu Military Reservation.

Officials issued a subpoena Aug. 28 requiring the director of child and youth services at Army Garrison Hawaii to provide “any records in your custody regarding complaints made against Denise Villa regarding issues of child care” from 2017 to present, and the ensuing investigations of those complaints, according to court documents.

Villa, a Navy wife who was living in housing at Aliamanu Military Reservation, was indicted on Aug. 1 on a charge of manslaughter in connection with the death of 7-month-old Abigail Lobisch.

Villa has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

The baby was found dead on Feb. 24 at Villa’s house. Sources familiar with the situation told Military Times that Villa was not licensed or authorized to care for children in her home, and that base officials had also ordered her to stop providing child care in her home multiple times. Officials have not confirmed that.

Defense officials are now evaluating how military installations deal with unauthorized family child care providers.

A neighbor told Military Times she had repeatedly expressed concern to base officials about the well-being of children she saw outside the home.

An overdose of antihistamine was the cause of death, according to court documents.

Prosecutors have also subpoenaed a copy of the 911 emergency call made by Villa to base emergency services, and any reports made in connection with that call.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit submitted by Honolulu Police Detective Ryan Kaio, the medical examiner’s July 15 report determined that the baby’s blood tested positive for diphenhydramine, the active ingredient in Benadryl and other similar medications, at a level of 2,400 nanograms per milliliter. That’s nearly twice the 1,400 nanograms per milliliter concentration that is the average reported in infant fatal overdoses, according to the affidavit. A nanogram is one-billionth of a gram.

Villa told police that the only thing she administered to the baby was lotion on her skin, according to the affidavit.

A pre-trial hearing scheduled for today was postponed and rescheduled for Sept. 23.

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