Judge Sentences Foster Mom 25-to-Life in Girl’s Death
SACRAMENTO, CA – A foster mother convicted of second-degree murder in the October 2007 death of a toddler in her care was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison on Friday.
Tamekca Walker was sentenced in Sacramento County Superior Court for the death of 18-month-old Tamaihia Moore. The little girl was found dead in her bed on Oct. 22, 2007.
Child Protective Services had placed Moore in Walker’s care Sept. 17, 2007 after the girl’s father had been arrested.
According to court documents presented at trial, a coroner’s examination of the girl’s body had evidence of internal injuries and a diaper rash that resulted in burns and bleeding.
Walker was also a foster mother to a 2-year-old girl and a 3-month-old baby at the time of Moore’s death. She also operated a licensed daycare from her south Sacramento home.
Murdered girl’s family to press lawsuit against Sacramento County
By Andy Furillo
Tamaiyha Moore’s blood relatives said Friday that they’re ready to roll with their civil suit against Sacramento County now that the foster mom who murdered the 17-month-old girl has been sent to prison.
“They really need to pay close attention where they’re placing these children in the first place because … they should have known the situation they put my grandchild in,” the girl’s grandmother, Debra Oliver, said in a Friday interview.
Oliver’s comments came in the hallways of Sacramento Superior Court after Judge Greta Curtis Fall sentenced Tamaiyha’s convicted killer, Tamekca Evett Walker, 36, to prison for 25 years to life for the Oct. 22, 2007, homicide. According to her probation report, Walker silenced the constantly crying foster toddler by placing her hand over the child’s face.
Born with cocaine in her system, Tamaiyha Moore had been placed in the foster system a month before her death because her father was arrested on a charge of domestic violence and on a parole violation, according to court documents. Tamaiyha’s mother also was in jail at the time of the girl’s death, according to the privately retained attorneys representing the county.
The civil suit had been stayed until authorities finalized criminal proceedings.
Bruce G. Fagel, the Beverly Hills attorney representing Debra Oliver, Tamaiyha Moore’s father, Calvin, and his sister, Patricia, said the civil case will resume Sept. 24.
His Dec. 17, 2007, lawsuit said the county’s Child Protective Services agency “negligently, carelessly, and unskillfully, referred (Tamaiyha Moore) to foster care and certain foster parents, failed to refer (her) for appropriate medical care … and failed to protect her from harm.”
The suit said that Debra Oliver and Patricia Moore visited the girl some 15 days before the death and “observed the child to be in a dehydrated and malnourished state.”
In another visit two days before the child’s death, Debra Oliver and Patricia Moore found her condition “visibly worse,” according to their suit. They said they were told by a county employee that “we would take care of it,” the suit said.
The county denied any wrongdoing. In their answer to the suit, the county’s attorneys said the plaintiffs “failed to exercise that degree of ordinary care necessary for the protection of … their minor child’s interests” and that “said failure” contributed to the death.
“I’m not inclined to comment on the evidence, but we’re denying the family was trying to get (Tamaiyha Moore) out of (Walker’s) house – we have denied that,” said county attorney Carol A. Wieckowski.
Debra Oliver said her family “was more responsible than they thought we were” in trying to ensure the girl’s safety. She said it was “unfair” of CPS to keep the child in Tamekca Walker’s home.
Calvin Moore attended Friday’s sentencing but declined to comment on it or on his own legal situation in which he was in jail at the time of his daughter’s death.
“That shouldn’t have had anything to do with it, period,” Debra Oliver said on behalf of her son. “This was a situation CPS put their own self in.”
For her part, Tamekca Walker, a Shreveport, La., native who grew up in Richmond and has no known criminal record, issued a tearful apology to the Moore-Oliver family during Friday’s sentencing.
“I’m very remorseful and saddened,” Walker said, of the girl’s death. “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about her.”
Technically, the 25 years-to-life term resulted from Walker’s conviction for child abuse resulting in great bodily injury that led death.
In their July 20 verdicts, jurors also convicted Walker of second-degree murder, which carries a 15-to-life term. Since both convictions resulted from the same act, Fall could only sentence Walker on one of the counts.
According to her probation report, Walker had been in the foster care business about two years before CPS placed Moore in her Meadowview home.
The report said Walker told police on the day of the death that the little girl had been “restless.”
Walker told police she “put her hand over (the toddler’s) face to keep her quiet,” the report said.
“She held her hand on the victim’s face but did not know for how long,” the report said. “The victim stopped crying and then the defendant wrapped her in a blanket. She stated she tried to give the victim CPR and then put her ‘in the corner.’ “
Sacramento police investigators later developed information that Walker “expressed frustration” over caring for Tamaihya Moore “due to the amount of attention she required, which was affecting her ability to care for the other children,” the probation report said.
A coroner’s autopsy never conclusively established the girl’s cause of death, although it suggested that the fatality resulted from “asphyxiation, probably by smothering.”