Man resentenced for 1997 murder, kidnapping of Kimberly Washington-Cohen
On Wednesday, Fifth Circuit Court Judge Kathleen N.A. Watanabe re-sentenced defendant Mitchell Peralto for his 1998 convictions for the murder and kidnapping of 23-year-old Kimberly Washington-Cohen.
Peralto was re-sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment for kidnapping and life imprisonment with the possibility of parole for murder. The terms of imprisonment were ordered to be served consecutively – one after the other, rather than at the same time.
In 1997, Mitchell Peralto and his ex-wife, Monica Alves Peralto, suffocated Washington-Cohen to death because they believed she was working as a police informant and that she had stolen some of Monica’s clothing.
They committed a prolonged attack on Washington-Cohen, bound and gagged her, and abducted her from a residence in Wailua Houselots on the Eastside of Kaua‘i. They tied blankets and plastic bags over her head, causing her to suffocate to death. Her body was found the next day, buried in a shallow grave at the end of a dirt road not far from the residence from which she was abducted. Peralto was on felony probation at the time.
Judge Watanabe noted that she did not take lightly that Peralto’s crimes were heinous, atrocious, manifesting exceptional depravity; and that the evidence showed that Washington-Cohen suffered a beating, slow torture, and suffocation.
Prosecuting Attorney Rebecca Like argued at the re-sentencing hearing that the longer consecutive sentencing was warranted given the nature and circumstances of Peralto’s crimes; his prior criminal history; and the need for the sentence imposed to reflect the seriousness of the offenses and to provide just punishment for the offenses.
Like argued that no sentence can come close to repairing the multi-generational harm Washington-Cohen’s family has experienced because of the Peraltos’ actions. Rick Burrell, Washington-Cohen’s brother, also urged the court to consider the multi-generational impact of the crimes. At the time of the murder and kidnapping, Washington-Cohen and the Peraltos had young children.
The re-sentencing hearing today was made necessary by a 2018 Hawai‘i Supreme Court decision in an unrelated case. Peralto is currently imprisoned at the Saguaro Correctional Facility in Eloy, Arizona; he participated in today’s re-sentencing hearing via video conference.
Monica Alves Peralto is currently imprisoned at the Women’s Community Correctional Center in Kailua. She was re-sentenced in 2021 by Chief Judge Randal G.B. Valenciano to the same imprisonment terms that Peralto was sentenced to Wednesday.