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Failing Kalab | Chapter 5 – Dealing with the fallout

 

Kalab Lay’s death has sparked dialogue, but is it enough?

 

Kalab Lay
Kalab Lay

 

By Kate Braser, Libby Keeling

Posted June 14, 2009 at 12:08 a.m.

http://www.courierpress.com/news/2009/jun/14/dealing-with-the-fallout/

EVANSVILLE — He was just a little boy, an innocent with no agenda, who inadvertently became a symbol of flaws within the system responsible for keeping children safe.

His parents’ choices and circumstances, with consequences both painful and enduring, marked Kalab Lay before he was born, an unheeded warning of the marks his 3-year-old body would take to the grave.

Addiction, crime, violence, poverty, neglect and harsh punishment were Kalab’s unfortunate inheritance, one for which he paid a dear and devastating price.

“I don’t think there’s been a child that’s died in our community that’s touched a nerve more than this child,” said Rep. Dennis Avery, D-Evansville, a longtime champion of children’s issues and transparency in the system designed to prevent maltreatment of the state’s youngest citizens.

Dysfunction simmering for decades in Kalab’s family finally erupted within a system that had numerous opportunities, but ultimately failed, to keep him safe from harm.

“Kalab opened many doors to possibilities so that children do not have to endure what he had to endure. The question is how many people are willing to walk through the doors that he has opened,” said Melanie Doty of the WE CARE (Wholeness, Empowerment, Community, Awareness, Recognition and Education) project that supported the victims’ rights bill, authored by Rep. Gail Riecken, D-Evansville, and signed into law in May.

“It’s just a matter of when are people going to walk through those doors and do what needs to be done to protect our children,” said Doty.

Amanda Brooks, Kalab’s mother, was abused and neglected as a child. Kalab’s father, Terry Lay, was a juvenile delinquent who matured into a felon with a lengthy criminal history including episodes of violence.

The volatile combination of Brooks, 34, and Lay, 41, ultimately proved deadly. Three months into a court-ordered visit with his parents in the family’s home at Eastbrook Mobile Home Park, Kalab died of blunt-force trauma. Both he and his twin sister, Kayla, had been brutally beaten, reportedly by their parents, over a period of days.

“I think it is absolutely clear that the biggest problem was the judge ignored recommendations from the people close to the case,” Avery said.

Embracing the memory of a boy they never knew, outraged individuals in the community came together, crying out for justice, holding vigil, raising funds for Kalab’s headstone, promoting awareness of abuse and neglect and calling for legislative change.

“There were a number of incidences where children suffered unfortunate tragedies as a result of abuse and neglect,” said Rep. Suzanne Crouch, R-Evansville, who co-authored the bill known as Kalab’s Law with Riecken.

The bill was referred to but did not receive reading in the House Judiciary Committee. The bill calls for a registry of those convicted of child-selling, neglect of a dependent or battery upon a child.

Indiana has not released its 2008 data, but in 2007, 36 Hoosier children died as a result of maltreatment by caregivers. In Illinois fiscal year 2008, 88 children died as a result of abuse or neglect. The most recent data available from Kentucky is from 2005, when abuse or neglect took the lives of 41 children.

“It’s all the Kalab Lays throughout the state that cause legislation like this to be drafted …” Crouch said.

Although 14 months have passed since Kalab was killed, his legacy — including demand for transparency and accountability in child protective services — has endured even as new tragedies have moved into the headlines.

At best, Kalab’s story will promote successful outcomes within the system that failed in its duty to protect him and keep him safe.

“In my opinion, it brought to light to everyone, especially in this community, how important it is to report any child abuse and neglect,” said Suzanne Draper, executive director of Vanderburgh County CASA (the Court Appointed Special Advocate program).

The amount of information released about Kalab’s life and death has fueled the community’s passion, Doty said.

The Courier & Press obtained a copy of Kalab’s Indiana Department of Child Services death investigation file through legislation championed by Avery in 2004. The law requires disclosure of DCS investigations into the death or near-death of a child as a result of abuse, abandonment or neglect.

In the first three months of this year alone, three children ages 16 months and younger have died, reportedly as a result of action or inaction by parents or stepparents.

“I just don’t think it’s right using him as a poster child,” said Kalab’s uncle and Brooks’ brother, Patrick Lawrence. Ongoing media coverage and the community’s focus on Kalab have been difficult on Kalab’s surviving half brothers, who are in their teens, said Lawrence.

Still, it is Kalab who wears the mantle of child welfare reform.

Kalab was just a little boy who liked jelly beans and Spider-Man, according to his obituary; a little boy who enjoyed cartoons and playing with his twin, according to the Indiana DCS investigation; a little boy described as holding “big secrets” by former baby sitter Heidi Frazure; and a little boy who died of traumatic brain injuries from repeated blows to the head, according to Vanderburgh County Coroner Annie Groves.

He was a little boy who never had the chance to blow out candles on his fourth birthday cake or pick out school supplies for the first day of kindergarten.

He was just a little boy, beaten, neglected and allowed to die by the people who were supposed to love him most.

In December, Brooks pleaded guilty to neglect of a dependent resulting in death in connection with Kalab’s death and felony battery resulting in serious bodily injury to a person less than 14 years of age related to the physical abuse Kayla suffered.

The plea agreement includes a sentencing recommendation of 20 years on the battery count and 35 years on the count of neglect to be served concurrently in the Indiana Department of Correction.

It also stipulates Brooks must testify “completely and truthfully” against Lay if called upon to do so. Vanderburgh Superior Court Judge Robert Pigman is waiting to impose a sentence until Brooks has cooperated fully with law enforcement and testified against the man she filed for divorce from in February.

If the judge accepts the plea agreement, charges of murder, neglect of a dependent resulting in serious bodily injury and battery resulting in bodily injury will be dismissed.

Authorities believe Brooks and Lay physically abused the twins, but Lay is responsible for Kalab’s fatal injuries.

Lay is charged with murder, neglect of a dependent resulting in death and neglect of a dependent resulting in serious bodily injury and is scheduled to stand trial in September in Jeffersonville, Ind.

If convicted in Clark County Circuit Court, where the case was moved because of pretrial publicity, the jury also could deem Lay to be a habitual offender, which could add as many as 30 years to his sentence.

According to Brooks’ public defender, she was sexually, physically and mentally abused by men for more than 20 years. Speaking on the day of her plea, Evansville attorney Russ Woodson said evidence shows abuse continued after Brooks married Lay.

As a result of her background, Woodson said he did not think Brooks was capable of being a good mother. Avery concurs, saying child abuse is a learned behavior passed from one generation to the next.

That doesn’t sit well with everyone.

“Being a product of generational abuse is no excuse, because you are a grown-up,” Doty said. “You know you have choices and it is up to you to make the choices that are best for your child and yourself.”

Information in Kalab’s file indicating Brooks faced a 1997 charge of child neglect in Delaware County, Ind., is incorrect, Lawrence said. The Delaware County Clerk’s Office could not confirm the charge.

Lay, however, pleaded guilty in 1996 to felony charges of resisting law enforcement and neglect of a dependent after being accused of fleeing Evansville police while “driving at an excessively high rate of speed, running stop signs and weaving in and out of traffic” with his 2-year-old and a 3-year-old in the car, according to court records.

He was sentenced to three years in the Indiana Department of Correction. The children’s mother, Roselyn Stanton, was facing jail time on a separate matter and there reportedly was no one to care for the children, Lay told Illinois Department of Children and Family Services during a 2007 assessment. The couple relinquished their parental rights, and the boy and girl were adopted.

Lay has said there was “no doubt in his mind” Brooks caused Kalab’s injuries, and told investigators he had no knowledge of the injuries Kayla suffered.

Lawrence said his sister told him Lay delivered the fatal beating four days before Kalab’s hospitalization on March 31, 2008.

“My theory is that Amanda knew something had happened, OK? Something serious had happened. I think Amanda was scared. I think Amanda knew that once she took that baby to the hospital, here it goes all over again. They’re going to come yank up all the kids. Here we go all over again, domino effect,” Lawrence said.

“I believe Amanda was hoping everything was going to be all right and that (Kalab) would pull through. The worst-case scenario happened, you know what I mean? He died.”

Kalab was seen last by an Illinois caseworker March 18, when Reagan Nelson of Lutheran Social Services informed the family she would be out of the office until March 31.

On April 1, Brooks’ mother, Patricia Bivens, called Nelson at 8:45 a.m.: “(Bivens) was crying and screaming and telling (Nelson) how sorry she was. She did not know what was going on in the home,” according to the caseworker’s notes.

Bivens said Brooks had told her Kalab was brain dead, at which point Nelson became “speechless.”

Both Brooks and Lay already were incarcerated at the Vanderburgh County Jail as Kalab remained on life support in preparation for organ procurement April 2.

His heart went to a 23-month-old girl in Wisconsin; his liver to a 1-year-old girl in Ohio; and both kidneys to a 75-year-old Ohio woman, according to Rick Posson, Indiana Organ Procurement spokesman.

When Kalab was hospitalized, one of Brooks’ sons from her first marriage was living with the family at 2415 Long Point Drive. His father picked him up. Indiana DCS took custody of Kayla; Brooks’ nearly 2-year-old daughter, whom Lay had not fathered; and the couple’s 1-month-old son.

Bivens sought custody of the surviving Lay children: the older two, still in their Illinois foster home; Kayla, who was returned to her Illinois foster home; and the two younger children, who were placed in Vanderburgh County foster care.

Her effort was unsuccessful, turned down because of a “significant history” with child welfare services that began with allegations of abuse and neglect of her own children in the mid-1970s, according to an Indiana DCS report.

Lawrence said he believes Brooks has relinquished her parental rights to the five surviving children she had during her relationship with Lay. He does not know if Lay has relinquished his parental rights.

However, Lawrence said no one in Brooks’ family, including her two oldest sons, is being allowed to visit any of the children who are wards of Indiana or Illinois.

“I sit back and cry sometimes about that. I really do,” Lawrence said. “I loved them all.”

Illinois DCFS spokesman Kendall Marlowe said when children are in the system, sibling visitation is a high priority. Maintaining sibling contact is of critical importance to children, he said, and DCFS operates under a mandate requiring good faith efforts to facilitate visitation for siblings and half siblings not placed together or not in the system.

“Once a child is adopted, the adoptive parents have sole legal authority to make decisions about who a child sees and when, just like any other legal parent,” Marlowe said.

In Indiana, sibling visitation occurs at the discretion of the presiding juvenile judge, said Indiana DCS spokeswoman Ann Houseworth.

The last official word on the status of the three children in Illinois came from Saline County (Ill.) State’s Attorney Mike Henshaw, who said the process for termination of parental rights is on hold.

Although Saline County Circuit Court Judge Todd Lambert was voted out of office by a narrow margin in November, he was appointed in January to serve as an associate judge. Henshaw said Lambert has recused himself from the Lay children’s proceedings.

In the weeks after Kalab’s death, Vanderburgh Juvenile Court Judge Brett Niemeier attempted to provide insight into the workings of the court and DCS by granting media access to the proceedings of the two youngest children in the Brooks-Lay case, who were — and still may be — in local foster care.

Niemeier also cited specific Indiana Code stating a juvenile judge may grant “any person having a legitimate interest in the work of the court or in a particular case access to the court’s legal records.”

In June 2008, the Indiana Court of Appeals granted a motion for a temporary stay filed by Brooks’ attorney, effectively barring the media from attending the custody proceedings. The court later ruled Niemeier erred in releasing CHINS (children-in-need of services) records related to Kalab’s siblings.

“Openness and transparency better serve children,” said Amy Harfeld, executive director of First Star, a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C., that focuses on improving the lives of children victimized by abuse and neglect.

Both Harfeld and Avery said Indiana law gives juvenile court judges the authority to open or close proceedings.

“More often than not, when decisions are made to try to keep proceedings a secret, the state is more interested in protecting the identity of their employees who may have erred than they are other children that may be at risk after a fatality like this,” Harfeld said.

In April 2008, First Star and the University of San Diego School of Law’s Children’s Advocacy Institute released a report showing only a handful of states were in compliance with federal requirements for public disclosure of the deaths and near-deaths of abused and neglected children.

According to the report, a majority of states have policies giving confidentiality priority over children’s welfare while preventing scrutiny that could lead to systemic reform.

The report also issued each state a letter grade based on its laws and policies related to disclosure of child death and near-death information. Only two states, Nevada and New Hampshire, earned an “A.” Indiana was among four states to receive an “A-” grade.

Twenty-eight states got a “C+” or lower, and 10 flunked. Illinois earned a “B+” and Kentucky a “C-” grade.

In this year’s general assembly, Avery said he worked to clarify Indiana’s disclosure laws to advance the state’s grade to an “A.” The bill, which passed, provides more specificity in terms of what information should be released.

According to Kalab’s file, the Lay twins and their two older siblings all had developmental delays, and the two living with foster parent Pam Sullens were described as having behaviors that pointed toward abuse. Kalab and Kayla were exposed to methamphetamine, alcohol and cigarette smoke while in the womb.

After Kalab was pronounced brain dead, the twins’ LSSI caseworker arrived in Evansville to return Kayla to Illinois, according to notes written by Nelson and included in Kalab’s file. During the drive, Nelson tried to reassure Kayla that nothing that had happened was her fault.

Standing in a McDonald’s parking lot at 8 p.m., Kayla began crying. She did not want to go with the new foster parent and did not want Nelson to leave her side.

In an effort to comfort her, Nelson gave her a stuffed hippo to keep her company, a kiss and a promise to see her the next day.

Eventually, Kayla was returned to foster parents Michele and Gerald Mitchell, who had cared for Kalab and Kayla since they were removed from their parents’ care at 2 months of age.

The transition from the Brooks-Lay home also proved difficult for the twins’ younger sister, who was placed with the same foster parent as their 1-month-old brother.

“She still wakes up at night screaming and has to be reassured and put back to bed,” the foster mother told Indiana DCS family case manager Amy Brandsasse about one week after the children arrived in her home. “(She) follows her from room to room, and they have to be in the same room.”

As Indiana repeatedly denied Illinois’ request to place the children across the state line in Illinois, Avery said the welfare of the younger children should have been given greater consideration.

“I wonder if those smaller children were abused …” he said. “If those 3-year-olds were at risk, I believe those younger children were at risk.”

Houseworth said statutory requirements for the interstate compact are more rigorous than those of an investigation stemming from a report of abuse or neglect.

The compact, for example, requires an FBI criminal background check while a reported allegation does not.

While the twins still were in Illinois foster care, LSSI called the Indiana child abuse hot line to report that Brooks repeatedly had lied about being pregnant. After her daughter was born in April 2006, Brooks told LSSI the child was her sister-in-law’s and refused to provide access to records regarding the pregnancy and the baby’s medical care.

“LSSI believes it is vital to assess her safety and well-being considering Amanda’s past history,” according to an Illinois DCFS report signed by LSSI caseworker Angela Nalley.

In the hot line call, Nalley reported Brooks, a prior meth user, had four children in Illinois foster care, all of whom were malnourished and in poor physical condition when they entered the system.

When Vanderburgh County DCS investigator Matt Murphy checked on Brooks, she admitted the child was hers. She said she had planned to put the baby up for adoption but changed her mind.

Murphy informed Nalley he was not concerned about the child’s health because Brooks and the baby were living with Brooks’ mother and had appropriate food, according to Illinois DCFS records.

In August 2006, Nalley saw Brooks and Lay after a court date they missed by arriving 30 minutes late. Nalley told the couple the case had passed legal screening, a first step in the adoption process, and Illinois DCFS would be preparing a petition to terminate their parental rights to the four children in state foster care.

One of the primary reasons for Indiana’s repeated denial of interstate compact requests for the twins’ placement was Lay’s extensive criminal history.

“That’s something we should look into. That might be something that would be valuable information for the (Indiana) DCS caseworker that’s doing the investigation,” Avery said. “It certainly wouldn’t hurt to have that information.”

While Kalab and Kayla were in Illinois foster care, three LSSI child welfare specialists working on behalf of Illinois DCFS recommended the court change its goal from returning them home to substitute care pending termination of parental rights.

The foster parents the four Lay children were placed with had indicated interest in adoption. Eight records from Kalab’s file show from July 2005 to November 2007 LSSI/DCFS recommendations to the court almost were split equally among returning the children to their biological parents, terminating parental rights and preparing the case for legal screening, a step in the adoption process.

“The whole system in itself is very complex and there’s a lot that goes into these types of cases and the end result is horrific …” said Draper, executive director of Vanderburgh County’s CASA. “It’s a more complex issue with two states involved.”

The Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children has been in place for decades, said Anita Light, director of Children and Family Services at the American Public Human Services Association in Washington, D.C. The Association of Administrators of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children is an affiliate of that association.

Under the ICPC, the association of administrators has the authority to advance regulations related to more effective application of the compact’s terms as well as to mediate disputes potentially arising between states.

When 35 states have ratified a new version of the ICPC, it will take effect. So far, nine states — including Indiana — have ratified. ICPC program manager in the Children and Family Services Department Carla Fults said Kentucky has introduced the legislation, and Illinois has attempted to move toward ratification but the legislation has not passed.

Both Light and Fults declined to discuss the specifics of the Brooks-Lay case. However, Fults did say the existing ICPC includes language outlining violations, but the determination of whether a violation of the compact has occurred is left to individual states.

Enforcement authority, data collection, electronic usage, constitutionality, judicial authority and private versus independent adoption were among the issues evaluated in preparing the new ICPC, Fults said.

Providing more guidance to help states better understand what’s expected and what can be resolved from one state to another are among the reasons for the development of the new ICPC, Light said.

The new compact would provide greater uniformity in application but not complete uniformity.

“States are very much in the business of accountability and examining what it is they’re doing, where improvements need to be made and a real objective analysis of the kinds of resources that are needed to provide those services to children and families,” Light said.

Indiana denied Illinois’ third request for an interstate compact in March 2008 after the twins were placed with their parents.

“The interstate compact as currently written requires cooperation between states toward the protection of children and has achieved that goal in thousands of cases over the years,” Marlowe said.

“The compact only succeeds … when agencies, courts and attorneys fully understand and implement its requirements.”

Illinois and Indiana authorities began exploring another agreement in support of the compact and to better coordinate the work of agencies, courts and attorneys in both states after Kalab’s death, Marlowe said.

“In our day-to-day practice, we have increased scrutiny and follow-up on cases that were denied under the compact to ensure that they are handled properly,” Marlowe said.

In addition to Lay’s criminal history, an interstate compact was denied because of both parents’ convictions on methamphetamine-related charges and lack of bonding between the twins and their parents.

Vanderburgh County DCS informed Illinois DCFS the twins should be removed from the Evansville home in a letter dated March 14, 2008 — 18 days before Kalab died.

“Due to the fact it was a judicial order that sent the children here, we were unable to take any action,” Houseworth said.

If the same situation were to arise today, with a “sending” state ignoring denial by Indiana as the “receiving” state, Avery said changes in state law would allow Indiana to take the sending state to court.

Indiana DCS officials have said they still were waiting for Illinois to remove the children from the home when Kalab died.

If Indiana can be faulted for anything in the case, Avery said, it would be an unwillingness to get involved.

“Our unwillingness was based on sound reasoning,” he said. “The children shouldn’t have been in that family. … This judge pretty much ignored the law.”

Initially, Brooks and Lay indicated they would like the surviving children to be placed with Brooks’ mother. However, in the divorce documents Brooks filed, she declined the opportunity to recommend someone to assume custody of the children.

Susan Tielking, former Indiana DCS spokeswoman, said the case caused state officials to reconsider policies for supervision of children who are placed in a home where an interstate compact was denied.

“Every year it seems like we do a little bit more but the only way we can know about those problems is if someone brings them to our attention,” Avery said. “It seems like children keep dying and it should be of concern to us all. Is there something else we could be doing?”

 

 

Failing Kalab | Reunification

 

http://www.courierpress.com/news/2009/jun/14/failing-kalab-reunification/

By Libby Keeling

Posted June 14, 2009 at 11:24 p.m.

June 2005

Brooks released from Lincoln Correctional Facility, where she had completed a parenting program and drug counseling through the Gateway program.

November 2005

Brooks completed a Southwestern Indiana Mental Health Center mental health assessment. No recommendation for counseling.

January 2006

Brooks completed 10 relapse-prevention groups.

Brooks completed substance abuse evaluation; recommended completion of 10 relapse-prevention groups.

February 2006

Brooks completed a Southwestern Indiana Mental Health Center substance abuse treatment program.

July 2006

Lay released from Jacksonville Correctional Facility, where he completed Gateway substance abuse treatment.

September 2006

Lay received mental health assessment; recommendation to continue random drug testing and follow up with parole officer.

Lay completed substance abuse assessment at Deaconess Cross Pointe with recommendation for continued urine screening.

November 2006

Brooks attended appointment with psychologist Michael Althoff in Carbondale, Ill.; second session scheduled.

December 2006

Brooks, because of illness, canceled second appointment with psychologist Michael Althoff in Carbondale, Ill.

January 2007

Lay was scheduled to begin parenting classes at Lampion Center.

February 2007

Brooks completed psychological evaluation by psychologist Michael Althoff in Carbondale, Ill.

March 2007

Lay completed parenting and behavior management programs.

July 2007

Lay missed an appointment for evaluation with psychologist Michael Althoff in Carbondale, Ill.

October 2007

Lay attended appointment for evaluation with psychologist Michael Althoff in Carbondale, Ill.

Lay completed psychological evaluation by psychologist Marilyn Marks-Frey at Paris Community Hospital in Paris, Ill.

January 2008

Brooks appointment for family counseling at the Lampion Center rescheduled because of weather.

Sources: Indiana Department of Child Services investigation of Kalab Lay’s death, court documents, court proceedings, law enforcement records

 

OTHER LINKS TO THIS STORY:

 

Failing Kalab | Family history

 

By Libby Keeling

Posted June 14, 2009 at 11:22 p.m.

http://www.courierpress.com/news/2009/jun/14/failing-kalab-family-history/

 

Failing Kalab | Court proceedings

 

By Libby Keeling

Posted June 14, 2009 at 11:19 p.m.

http://www.courierpress.com/news/2009/jun/14/failing-kalab-court-proceedings/

 

THE FULL SERIES:

KALAB LAY: YOU COULD HAVE BEEN SAVED

FAILING KALAB

FAILING KALAB-CHAPTER 2

FAILING KALAB-CHAPTER 3

FAILING KALAB-CHAPTER 4

Failing Kalab | Chapter 4 |

 

Death of an Innocent

 

 http://www.courierpress.com/news/2009/jun/07/death-of-an-innocent/

By Kate Braser, Libby Keeling

Posted June 7, 2009 at midnight

DENNY SIMMONS / Courier & Press Kalab Lay's grave marker at Sunset Memorial Park Cemetery in Evansville is adorned with a firetruck, organ donor emblem and the image of a child praying.

DENNY SIMMONS / Courier & Press Kalab Lay's grave marker at Sunset Memorial Park Cemetery in Evansville is adorned with a firetruck, organ donor emblem and the image of a child praying.

EVANSVILLE — Thin and frail, the unresponsive little boy lay near a bedroom door in the mobile home at 2415 Long Point Drive.

“It was a nightmare,” said Dale Naylor, assistant chief of the Knight Township Fire Department, who was among the first to respond and attempt to resuscitate 3-year-old Kalab Lay.

“His lifeless little body was just there,” Naylor said. “It was just heartbreaking.”

Naylor said it felt as if he were moving in slow motion as he made his way through Kalab’s parents’ trailer in Eastbrook Mobile Home Park to reach the little boy in the early afternoon of March 31, 2008.

Although many of the details are foggy, Naylor said he believes Amanda Brooks, Kalab’s mother, was sitting on a couch in the living room and Terry Lay, Kalab’s father, was standing in the hallway when Naylor and then-Knight Township Division Chief Tim Hanisch arrived.

What Naylor does clearly remember is a heightened sense of urgency as he and Hanisch relieved Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Deputy Stuart Mosby, who already was administering CPR.

Additional deputies joined the effort. Emergency services arrived. The room was small and crowded, but the group remained focused and calm.

“We were just all: ‘Come on, little guy! We were just looking for any signs of life,’” Naylor said.

The first responders were able to establish a good airway and administer effective CPR. Naylor recalled thinking,”Come on! You can do it … .

“We just never got any real positive sign.”

Kalab did not open his eyes or make a sound, Naylor said.

Responding to calls in Eastbrook Mobile Home Park is always hard for Knight Township firefighters, who were among the first on the scene after the 2005 tornado ripped families apart. The F3 storm killed 19 people in the complex.

“I don’t know if you ever get over it,” Naylor said. “You learn how to deal with it, and you learn how to go on. If you ever get to the point where it doesn’t bother you, then it’s time to get out.”

Responding to calls involving children also is inherently difficult. Then, Naylor said, as the details of Kalab’s death came out, its “senseless” nature magnified already intense emotion.

“That’s probably the biggest thing we have to get over, is that adults allegedly did this to a helpless 3-year-old,” he said.

“On a scale of one to 10, it’s probably a 10. It ranks right up there with the tornado. The tornado was on a larger scale, but it ranks right up there.”

Neither of Kalab’s parents accompanied him in the ambulance to St. Mary’s Medical Center, where he was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit in critical condition shortly before 1:30 p.m.

No one was immediately available in the emergency department to provide a medical history for their son.

Kalab arrived at the medical center in cardiac arrest. He wasn’t breathing. His pupils were fully fixed and dilated, and he exhibited no response to light or pain.

A physician’s progress note dictated by Dr. Taveepong Terayanont at 2:10 p.m. read: “(Patient) is brain dead from massive brain injury.”

Although emergency measures restored a pulse, Kalab never exhibited signs of neurological function or brain stem activity. The brain stem is responsible for basic bodily functions, including breathing and blood pressure.

He remained on life support. Physicians described Kalab as “extremely” dehydrated and noted multiple scrapes and abrasions across his face; a “very large” area of bruising over his right thigh “somewhat resembling a handprint;” bruising and abrasions around his scrotum; swelling, discoloration and broken tissue in the area of his rectum; and dried blood on his scrotum and the shaft of his penis.

As 4 p.m. approached, a registered nurse sealed the sexual assault kit that passed into the custody of Sheriff’s Detective Joe Beckwith, who also was given a brown paper bag containing the T-shirt, pants and boxer shorts cut from Kalab’s body.

As first responders were battling to resuscitate Kalab before he was transported to St. Mary’s, Naylor said, he didn’t have time to contemplate the possibility of child abuse, but the whole scene had a “weird” feeling.

Occasionally, a little girl, whose clothing was in disarray, would appear in the bedroom doorway, he said. About Kalab’s size, she likely was his twin, Kayla.

“She just kept popping her head in. She wasn’t crying. She had kind of a blank stare,” Naylor said.

Lay reportedly followed Kalab as he was moved from the bedroom to the ambulance. Brooks remained on the couch, “not really saying or doing much,” Naylor said, to the best of his recollection.

“I didn’t notice any hysteria. … They were not freaking out like you’d expect.”

When Sgt. Doug Daza, supervisor of detectives for the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office, arrived on the scene, he was preparing himself for a death investigation.

According to records in Kalab’s Indiana Department of Child Services file, after finding the child blue and unresponsive, Brooks called her husband at work about 11:30 a.m. Lay told a colleague at H&S Counter Tops that his son had stopped breathing; he then left for home.

He reportedly arrived about 10 minutes later and attempted to awaken Kalab for about 10 minutes before calling 911. First responders arrived within about five minutes of the call.

Kalab appears to have been without oxygen for 20 to 25 minutes. According to the National Institutes of Health, brain cells begin to die within five minutes of oxygen deprivation.

“At the time, I had a 4-year-old daughter and all I could see was her little face laying there,” Naylor said. “It affected me for days. I could just see his little body laying on that floor.”

As Kalab was loaded into the ambulance, Daza began calling in other detectives and gathering information from those on the scene. He described Brooks and Lay as exhibiting little emotion.

“To be honest, I thought she was acting more like she was worried about something else than her child …” he said. “He seemed relatively calm. He wasn’t hysterical or anything like that.”

Eventually, Daza said, Brooks and Lay worked out who was going to the hospital, how they were going to get there and what to do with the other children in the home.

Brooks’ first husband picked up their 12-year-old son. When Sgt. Darren Baumberger located Kalab’s twin, Kayla, a 2-year-old half sister and 1-month-old brother outside their grandmother’s nearby trailer, he yelled for Daza to join him.

The person holding Kayla turned around as Daza approached.

“It took my breath away. She was a very beaten child, a very battered child,” Daza said. “I can’t imagine anybody ever seeing her in the state she was in and not being horrified and doing something about it.”

Kayla’s face and much of her body were covered in bruises in various stages of healing, he said. She also had an area of thick scabbing under one eye.

“Obviously, it was not one beating,” Daza said. “It was multiple.”

Indiana DCS took custody of the children. Kayla was taken to Deaconess Hospital for examination.

“It’s probably one of the worst things I’ve ever seen,” Daza said. “I have young children. It’s hard for me to imagine how you could do this to a child, much less your own. It’s something I’m still dealing with.”

Indiana family case manager Jillian Andrews went to St. Mary’s at 5:45 p.m. to inform Brooks and Lay their children were being detained by the Vanderburgh County DCS.

Brooks agreed to submit to a drug screen, and permission was obtained to screen both Brooks and Lay at the hospital.

At 7 p.m., however, the on-call case manager was notified Brooks had refused the screen, and Lay had left.

In the emergency department at Deaconess, Dr. Mike Kelley examined Kayla. He reported her injuries included contusions and bruises on her thighs, back, buttocks and legs, as well as an extensive abrasion to her left eye.

Kelley described Kayla as “savagely beaten,” and said anyone who had contact with her during the last several days could not have been oblivious to the injuries she had sustained.

One of Brooks’ four brothers, Matthew Lawrence, baby-sat the children for several hours before Kalab’s hospitalization. Brooks was attending a court hearing in connection with an 11-year-old check deception charge in Warrick County.

“Kalab was sick and in his bedroom, and unless he called out needing something from him to just leave him alone,” Brooks instructed her brother, according to records from the investigation.

Lawrence later told authorities he heard Kalab wheezing but did not see him nor did he see any bruises on Kayla. He also denied seeing any type of abuse in the home.

Another of Brooks’ brothers, Chris Lawrence, gave a formal statement to authorities in which he recalled seeing Kayla’s injured eye and bruised back March 30, 2008.

“Instead of intervening at that point, he and his girlfriend went home to talk about it,” according to the report.

Kalab was hospitalized the next day.

“The family is being uncooperative with CPS and LEA (law enforcement agencies),” according to a notation in the Indiana DCS investigation of Kalab’s death.

Repeated attempts to contact Brooks’ and Lay’s families were unsuccessful, although one of Brooks’ brothers, Patrick Lawrence, contacted the newspaper in response to this series.

Lay’s court-appointed criminal attorney, Tim Dodd, and Brooks’, Russ Woodson, categorically have denied requests to interview their clients. Calls to Vanderburgh County DCS staff have been referred to the Indiana DCS spokeswoman.

The children’s foster parents could not be located or declined to comment. Numerous calls to Lutheran Social Services of Illinois have not been returned.

Through public records and court appearances, Brooks and Lay have blamed each other. On the night of Kalab’s hospitalization, both separately and voluntarily went to the Sheriff’s Command Post.

During interviews, a reportedly unemotional Brooks acknowledged spanking the twins with her hand and a belt, causing bruises. However, she denied shaking Kalab or causing any injury that would be considered life-threatening.

She reported Kalab was “very, very” scared of something on the night of March 29, 2008, and asked to go to bed without dinner. Lay took him to bed, she said, and did something to Kalab in the bedroom.

Brooks said she did not know what Lay was doing, but she heard Kalab crying, asking him to stop.

She refused to provide any details of what she heard and said Lay told her not to seek medical treatment for Kalab. Brooks said Lay told her the children would be taken away because of the bruises.

Brooks accepted responsibility for some of Kayla’s injuries but said the scabbing near her eye occurred when the child “rubbed her eye” with a washcloth after accidentally getting soap in it while bathing.

Brooks said she could not explain to detectives how Kayla sustained other areas of bruising and contusions on her body. Brooks did say Kayla had fallen out of the bathtub and off the bunk bed.

As a tearful Lay was interviewed by authorities, he said Brooks had been taking Adderall, a stimulant prescribed for attention deficit disorder, all weekend and had been “out of control” for quite a while. Her urine tested positive for amphetamines.

Lay, whose urine screen was negative, claimed Brooks’ brothers supplied the pills and Lay paid for them. Lay also said he knew Brooks had been abusing the children for some time, and they had been having an ongoing argument about her treatment of the children.

Lay claimed he told two co-workers about the abuse a few weeks earlier because he did not know how to persuade her to stop. The co-workers, however, failed to corroborate his story.

Brooks disciplined the children only behind closed doors, Lay said. When he entered the room, she would stop whatever she was doing.

“Terry reports there is no doubt in his mind that his wife caused the injuries to Kalab,” according to the Indiana DCS investigation.

Lay also denied any knowledge of Kayla’s injuries, reporting Brooks was responsible for bathing and changing her clothes. He also said by the time he got home from work, his wife already had punished the children by sending them to their rooms.

Lay’s assertion he was unaware of Kayla’s injuries was determined by deputies to lack credibility.

From the admissions made during interviews at the Command Post, it became apparent both Brooks and Lay were responsible for injuries to the children, Daza said. They were arrested the night Kalab was hospitalized.

Kalab was pronounced brain dead at 2 p.m. on April 1, 2008. As he remained on life support prior to organ donation, his parents were held in the Vanderburgh County Jail charged in connection with Kayla’s injuries.

Brooks, on $100,000 bond, faced a preliminary charge of battery of a child younger than 14. Lay, on preliminary charges of neglect of a dependent, was being held on an initial bond of $50,000.

Kalab’s heart, liver, gallbladder, kidneys and adrenal glands were donated.

While in a holding cell in the Vanderburgh Superior Court Juvenile Division the day Kalab underwent organ procurement, Brooks told Indiana DCS caseworker Amy Brandsasse “she has done everything she is supposed to to get her children back from foster care.”

She also told investigators she was very frustrated with Kayla for “smarting off” and saying “she didn’t have to listen.”

The twins both were having problems with potty training, Brooks said. Kayla would urinate on the floor in front of the toilet. She also reported having problems with Kalab getting into the cabinets and eating food.

“She was very vague about the information she was giving when trying to accuse Terry of committing the acts that ultimately resulted in his death.” Brandsasse wrote.

Brooks had no answer when Brandsasse asked her why she would allow her son to be killed by a man she was married to and not call authorities or contact her case manager if her son was at risk of harm.

“One of the things that has always struck me about the case is when we were talking about both parents, as well as family members, one of the things that they would say was Kalab was always the good kid and that Kayla was always in trouble,” Daza said. “It always struck me as odd.”

After an autopsy, Kalab’s death was ruled a homicide as the result of nine blunt-force traumas to the head from beatings delivered over a period of days.

The trauma to his head resulted in bruising, swelling and bleeding in his brain, which created enough pressure to damage the brain stem.

The autopsy report also noted Kalab suffered widespread bruising and abrasions at different stages of healing and retinal hemorrhage. He also had pneumonia and thin, sparse and missing hair.

“I’d love to say I’m outraged and depressed, but unfortunately I see too much of this,” Dr. Roland Kohr, Vigo County coroner and pathologist at Terre Haute Regional Hospital, said after reviewing portions of the autopsy conducted in Evansville. “I’ve seen worse. I’ve seen lesser.”

Kohr, a member of the State Fatality Review Team, said yanking a child’s hair can cause hemorrhaging under the skin, and posterial retinal hemorrhage is a classic sign of “shaken-type” scenarios.

Kalab’s death first was reported as a result of shaken baby syndrome. Closed-head trauma causes that type of hemorrhaging in a child. Not much else will, said Kohr, who was not involved directly in Kalab’s case.

Closed-head trauma causing hemorrhaging can result from impact, but impact is not required, Kohr explained.

“This kid’s got very small abrasions on his head,” Kohr said. Consequently, he could have been “slammed” into something relatively soft, not hard enough to cause a skull fracture, but entirely within the realm of abusive behavior.

“Kids don’t get this from falling off a couch or bed,” he said. “Any adult can pick up a 27-pound child and fling them around.”

Kalab’s height, 3 feet 7 inches tall, was normal for a nearly 4-year-old, Kohr said, but his weight was below the fifth percentile, making him a “very skinny” little boy.

His parents were charged April 4, 2008, in connection with Kayla’s beating.

Lay was charged with neglect of a dependent resulting in serious bodily injury, a class B felony, and his bond was increased from $50,000 to $100,000.

Brooks faced counts of battery resulting in serious bodily injury, a class B felony; battery resulting in serious bodily injury, a class D felony; and neglect of a dependent resulting in serious bodily injury, also a class B felony.

Her bond remained $100,000 cash only. Both parents were forbidden to have contact with their children.

Kalab was buried April 7, 2008, in Sunset Memorial Park Cemetery just hours after his parents were charged with murder.

The services were private, and Kalab’s former foster parents were escorted from the funeral home by police at the request of the family.

Authorities said neither Brooks nor Lay requested permission to leave the jail to attend their son’s funeral.

Listening to Brooks talk about Kalab’s death was like hearing someone talk about baseball, said Stephanie Morrison, who lived across the street from the Brooks-Lay family in Eastbrook Mobile Home Park for several years.

“She’s just unconcerned. I mean, if my child died they’d have to put me in the state hospital, regardless of whether I did it or not. She’s more worried about what kind of deal she’s going to get than that her child is no longer alive.”

An accidental overdose and arrest for child neglect in November brought Morrison and Brooks together again.

“It’s kind of embarrassing, but I was in jail with her,” Morrison said. “She’s saying neither one of them did it,” but said she would testify against Lay in court.

“She acted like she was sticking by him. The next thing I know she’s divorcing him and turning state’s evidence on him to get the murder charge dropped,” Morrison said.

After Brooks told her she didn’t know what happened to Kalab, Morrison said she confronted her.

“I asked her point blank: Then how did your little boy die of shaken baby syndrome?”

“I think he fell and hit his head,” Morrison said Brooks replied.

“They can tell the difference. … But I didn’t say that,” Morrison said later.

Brooks dropped out of high school after her freshman year and married Robert Brooks when she was 18. The marriage lasted nine years and produced two sons, according to court records.

“Robert reports he has always thought Amanda to be a good mother,” according to statements he made at the Sheriff’s Command Post on April 1, 2008, the day Kalab was declared brain dead.

Although he has custody of their children, Robert Brooks said he had allowed the younger boy to live with his mother for the previous six or eight months.

While they were married, he never saw her spank the children, Robert Brooks said. He always saw her use timeout, and she responded appropriately when bed-wetting occurred.

The Brooks’ younger son and Kayla both gave statements to the authorities.

The twins’ half brother — head down without making eye contact — initially said neither Brooks nor Lay ever used corporal punishment.

He saw his mother crying the previous morning and saw her crying again when she called Lay to tell him Kalab’s lips were blue.

The interview was stopped when the detective left the room and the boy began banging his head on the table.

Later, however, he told another detective he had seen both Brooks and Lay spank Kalab and Kayla with a belt.

In her interview, Kayla told Brandsasse and Detective Patty McDowell “Mommy does everything with the belt.”

She reportedly said her mommy also spanked with a fly swatter and both her mommy and daddy spank with a belt or hand on their bare bottoms.

Kalab was spanked with his pants off and “peed his pants” three times, Kayla said. He was “bad” and got into trouble so their mother put “girl clothes” on him.

Kayla said Kalab was “sick today” and “puked on the floor.” She said Kalab got into the cabinets and ate a whole bag of sugar and jelly beans.

Daddy hits Kalab on his butt with his hands, she said.

“I’m piss (sic) off at Kalab. … If Kalab would (not) of gotten into the candy jar this would of never happened,” she later told Lutheran Social Services of Illinois caseworker Reagan Nelson during the drive back to Illinois.

Before leaving the Command Post, however, Kayla also explained her mommy put dish soap in her eye because she “peed” in her pants. She described how the twins did “their time” in “jail.”

She demonstrated being “sent to jail,” when the children would squat in the corner with their arms straight out holding a heavy object, such as a pan.

Sitting down or standing straight up in jail was not tolerated, Kayla said. The punishment was a heavier object to hold.

Kayla said Kalab peed in his pants, bit her and said cuss words so he had to stand in the corner.

He was picking his nails, she said, so their mother put tape on them and spanked him with a white-and-black belt.

Authorities observed Kayla had contusions and bruising on her legs, back and buttocks in layers of color, including yellow, black, blue and purple.

Asked what happened to her bottom, Kayla said she got a spanking.

“But,” she reported, “it didn’t hurt right now.”

 

 

Caseworker logs show uneven final 3 months

 

http://www.courierpress.com/news/2009/jun/06/caseworker-logs-show-uneven-final-3-months/

By Staff Report

Posted June 6, 2009 at 11 p.m.

EVANSVILLE — After an Illinois judge sent Kalab and Kayla Lay to visit their parents in Evansville, Amanda Brooks and Terry Lay, a Lutheran Social Services of Illinois caseworker was to conduct weekly home visits.

Also, case aids were to supervise sibling visits, alternating between Evansville and Illinois. The twins were reunited with their parents Jan. 3, 2008.

Of 21 planned visits documented in case notes included in the investigation of Kalab’s death, only one in three occurred as scheduled and when the twins were awake. During five visits, Kalab and Kayla were asleep. Four visits were canceled by a parent. Four appear not to have occurred without further explanation and one was canceled by a caseworker.

Visit information from the file includes (all dates 2008):

n Jan. 5: Visit appears not to have occurred.

n Jan. 10: Caseworker finds Kalab asleep in his bed; Kayla is asleep in her room; home clean and free from safety concerns.

n Jan. 12: Visit appears not to have occurred.

n Jan. 15: Caseworker finds the twins happy, clean and wearing new clothes; home clean and free from safety concerns.

n Jan. 19: Visit canceled by Brooks, who called Jan. 18 to report two of the children were ill.

n Jan. 23: Kalab and Kayla asleep in their rooms; home clean and free from safety concerns.

n Jan. 29: Visit appears not to have occurred.

n Feb. 2: Kayla did not come for the Illinois sibling visit because she was attending a birthday party. The caseworker observed Kalab and his younger sister were properly secured in the van’s child seats.

n Feb. 4: Caseworker spoke with Kalab and Kayla, who were in their rooms for naps but were awake; home clean and free of safety concerns.

n Feb. 6: Kalab and Kayla asleep; home clean and free of safety concerns.

n Feb. 13: Unable to reach Brooks, caseworker calls maternal grandmother to cancel the visit due to bad weather.

n Feb. 16: Lay calls Feb. 15 to cancel scheduled visit because the twins were sick.

n Feb. 20: Brooks’ brother Matthew Lawrence baby-sitting; Brooks with another child at doctor. Kayla eating. Kalab at maternal grandmother’s; caseworker spoke to him by phone; home clean and free from safety concerns.

n March 1: Brooks cancels visit due to imminent delivery of her eighth child.

n March 4: Caseworker looked in at Kalab and Kayla, who were in their rooms for naps but awake. Both said things were going “good;” saw the twins’ new brother; home clean and free from safety concerns.

n March 12: Kalab and Kayla asleep in their rooms; Brooks said everything was going “good;” home clean and free from safety concerns.

n March 15: Caseworker observes Kalab and infant brother arrive in family van at the LSSI office at Illinois DCFS in Harrisburg, Ill., and then at the mall; Brooks said Kayla and her younger sister were having girls’ day with maternal grandmother.

n March 18: Twins eating lunch; home clean and free from safety concerns. Caseworker tells Brooks she will be out of the office March 21-31. This was the last contact the twins had with LSSI prior to Kalab’s death.

n March 22: Case aid was told the twins were napping and did not see the children.

n March 28: Visit appears not to have occurred.

n March 29: Lay canceled home visit because the twins were sick.

n March 31: Kalab, unresponsive and not breathing, taken by ambulance to St. Mary’s Medical Center.

Source: The file of Kalab Lay’s death investigation

 

VANDERBURGH COUNTY ABUSE AND NEGLECT RECORDS

 

http://www.courierpress.com/news/2009/jun/06/no-headline—07a0kalab-childdeaths/

By Staff Report

Posted June 6, 2009 at 11 p.m.

EVANSVILLE — VANDERBURGH County abuse and neglect deaths

Since 2001, there have been eight children whose deaths have resulted in the prosecution of one or more of their parents or caregivers. Since January, there have been three child deaths that have resulted in charges. Here is a profile of two of those eight children. Next week, more victims will be profiled.

Kyle Howell

Died Feb. 20, 2004

Kyle Howell, a 7-week-old, was found dead Feb. 20, 2004, at his home after his mother, Misty Howell, 21, gave him what proved to be lethal dose of Dimetapp, a cold and allergy medication.

Police originally thought Kyle was suffocated to death because his body was face down in a pillow, but the coroner’s office later found evidence of the overdose.

Misty Howell was indicted on charges of reckless homicide and neglect of a dependent. Kyle’s father, Albert Love, was not charged.

Three years ago, she pleaded guilty to reckless homicide, leaving the sentencing decision up to Superior Court Judge Robert Pigman, who sentenced her to the maximum of eight years on May 12, 2006.

In December 2006, the Indiana Court of Appeals sided with Howell in her appeal, reversed the sentence and sent the case back to Pigman for resentencing.

Howell was sentenced to six years in prison on May 14, 2007, but including time served, the judge ordered an additional six months at the Vanderburgh County Jail, followed by 18 months of probation.

Xander Ross

Died May 17, 2005

Xander Ross died May 17, 2005, 13 months after his mother’s live-in companion, Andrew Weede, left the 6-month-old severely disabled from a skull fracture and brain injury.

Prosecutors originally charged Weede, then 24, with attempted murder and neglect of a dependent.

He pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of battery causing serious bodily injury to a child younger than age 14.

Weede was sentenced to 15 years in prison. One year after the conviction, Xander died.

After St. Mary’s Medical Center doctors said nothing further could be done for the child, his mother, Natalie Fonner, requested Xander be allowed to die at home.

Because Weede already pleaded guilty in connection with the crime, he cannot face new charges. With time served and good behavior, Weede will be eligible for parole in 2011.

Sources: Court records, Courier & Press archives

Muncie mother indicted for neglect in child’s death

 

http://www.thestarpress.com/article/20090603/NEWS01/906030335/1002/rss

By RICK YENCER • ryencer@muncie.gannett.com • June 3, 2009

A Delaware County grand jury on Tuesday indicted a Muncie woman whose failure to treat her child’s diabetic condition allegedly led to the child’s death.

Amber Sky Bertram, 29, was formally charged with two counts of neglect of a dependent — both Class A felonies carrying standard 30-year prison terms — after the grand jury determined she failed to provide proper medical care for her daughter, Kaitlyn Mae Borson, 8, leading to the girl’s death last November.

Bertram had being investigated by the Indiana Division of Child Services last October on allegations of medical neglect.

She was first arrested by Muncie police on Dec. 5, a week after her daughter’s death, but was released after Delaware County prosecutors chose not to file charges at that time.

She was re-arrested on Tuesday after the indictments were issued, and was being held without bond in the Delaware County jail pending a hearing in Circuit Court 3.

Muncie police Sgt. Linda Cook alleged that Bertram failed to monitor her child’s blood sugar levels, missed doctor and other medical appointments and failed to manage the girl’s high blood sugar readings.

Bertram was unable to provide police with her daughter’s at-home blood sugar monitoring device.

Kaitlyn was diagnosed with diabetes when she was 2 and entered Clarian Health Hospital two days before her death with flu-like symptoms and a blood sugar level in the 300s. Normal readings fall in the 80-180 range.

Defense attorney Jack Quirk suggested the prosecutor’s office and child welfare helped protect medical providers in the case.

Child protective services took Bertram’s two other children into custody, pending a family placement.

Cook indicated the Borson case was Muncie’s first in recent years involving child neglect resulting in death.

Contact news reporter Rick Yencer at 213-5833.

TaJanay Bailey’s mother gets 35 years in her death

 

Sentence for felony neglect is more than prosecutors asked for

http://www.indystar.com/article/20090523/LOCAL18/905230451/1195/LOCAL18/TaJanay+Bailey+s+mother+gets+35+years+in+her+death

By Jon Murray

Posted: May 23, 2009.

 The final chapter in the abuse death of TaJanay Bailey closed Friday with a 35-year prison sentence for her mother.

The 3-year-old girl’s November 2007 killing in a crime-ridden apartment complex, as her case was under the watch of the state Department of Child Services, focused scrutiny beyond her family to the child-welfare system.

The man who delivered the blows — her mother’s live-in boyfriend — is serving a 65-year prison sentence for TaJanay’s murder.

But the failure of the girl’s mother to protect her child led a Marion Superior Court judge to take the rare step Friday of issuing a stiffer sentence than even prosecutors requested for felony neglect.

During a five-hour hearing, prosecution witnesses said Charity Bailey, now 22, spurned repeated offers of help.

“There were plenty of opportunities to leave and take that baby,” said Janice Springfield, TaJanay’s foster mother for most of the child’s life. “She could have prevented this.”

The fallout from TaJanay’s death has reached far beyond the courtroom.

The young mother

Bailey’s tumultuous upbringing and experience with domestic violence prompted many to lobby the court for leniency.

Advocacy group And Justice For All submitted a petition with about 100 signatures — including one from former U.S. Rep. Andy Jacobs Jr. — urging a lenient sentence.

And Bailey’s attorney, Ray Casanova, presented extensive evidence and testimony about mental health problems attributed to Bailey’s difficult life.

Born with methamphetamine in her system, Bailey was raised by a grandmother in an environment of drugs, sexual abuse and family discord. She dropped out of high school and gave birth to TaJanay at age 17.

Bailey later moved in with Lawrence Green, who would kill TaJanay, and stayed with him despite episodes of domestic violence. They have two sons, both now in foster care.

Deputy Prosecutor Denise Robinson said millions of Americans survive such difficult circumstances. Judge Kurt Eisgruber said he was not swayed before giving Bailey a sentence longer than the 30 years prosecutors had requested but less than the maximum of 56 years.

 

“You were passive toward the torture of your daughter,” the judge told Bailey.

She could win release in about 16 years with credit for good behavior. She said before learning her fate that she misses TaJanay and wants to counsel other women.

“I want to tell them that there is help out there, and they do not need to be afraid to get it,” Bailey said, sobbing.

The violent boyfriend

Last month, Eisgruber sentenced Green, 22, to 65 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to murder to avert a trial and the risk of life imprisonment.

Prosecutors said Green abused TaJanay several times in the final week of her life, including hanging her by her T-shirt on a coat hook for 20 minutes, partly because of problems with potty training.

He delivered a litany of blows the morning of her death after TaJanay soiled herself; at least 40 bruises were found during the autopsy.

The failing system

TaJanay’s death revealed lapses in oversight by the Marion County juvenile court and the state Department of Child Services. The agency had returned TaJanay and her younger half brother to Bailey and Green a month before her death for a trial reunification.

TaJanay had been the subject of two abuse or neglect cases and spent most of her short life in foster care.

A DCS review cited failed communication and a lack of urgency among everyone handling the case. Officials took no disciplinary action, however, attributing any mishandling to errors of judgment.

The community response

After TaJanay’s death, dozens of stuffed animals were deposited at the base of trees in the Phoenix Apartments, the caldron of poverty and crime where she died.

The Northeastside complex’s Edgemere Court was home to the most violent crimes of any residential block in the city. The killing spurred responses from faith-based groups as well as the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and the Marion County prosecutor’s office, which both set up outposts there.

Those outposts, which aren’t staffed full time, remain open. The prosecutor’s spokesman said child support is the most common issue addressed at its office, though fewer residents than hoped have stopped by.

Leniency urged for TaJanay’s mother

 

She loved girl, says advocate; boyfriend gets 65 years in death

http://www.indystar.com/article/20090425/NEWS02/904250480

By Jon Murray
Posted: April 25, 2009

A judge who gave the killer of 3-year-old TaJanay Bailey a 65-year prison sentence Friday will next consider the fate of the girl’s mother.

tajanay-bailey

Charity Bailey, 22, could face decades in prison at sentencing next month on guilty pleas to four counts of neglect in connection with her daughter’s death from abuse. But an advocate touched by Bailey’s own turbulent upbringing said she has gathered dozens of signatures for a petition urging compassion and minimal time in prison.

“Charity did not kill her child,” said Jennifer Cobb, whose group, And Justice For All Inc., has been an advocate for Bailey. “Charity loved all her children, particularly TaJanay.”

Cobb was in the courtroom Friday when Marion Superior Court Judge Kurt Eisgruber gave Lawrence L. Green, 22 — Bailey’s live-in boyfriend — the prison term set by his plea agreement with prosecutors.

The judge dispatched the case by branding Green a “child killer.”

TaJanay’s death in November 2007 captured attention on several fronts. Prosecutors said Bailey stood by while Green inflicted abuse bordering on torture, including hanging TaJanay by her T-shirt on a coat hook, in part because of trouble with potty training.

TaJanay had spent most of her life in foster care, but the state Department of Child Services sent her and her younger half brother home for a trial reunification about a month before her death.

No penalty could be enough for Green, TaJanay’s former foster mothers said Friday. Kristen Foster and Janice Springfield, who cared for TaJanay at different times, said she loved Dora the Explorer and McDonald’s french fries and delighted in new experiences with her foster families.

“Lawrence, I will tell you this. I will pray for you every day in prison,” Foster said to Green from the witness stand.

But as soon as he leaves the prison gates, she said, “I pray that you die instantly and never get to see another day of freedom on this earth.”

Green said little. He could be released in about 31 years, with credit for good behavior and time already served in jail.

Prosecutors dropped a request for a life sentence without parole after Green agreed to the 65-year term, the statutory maximum for murder.

Bailey’s sentencing, set for May 22, won’t be as clear-cut. She could receive anything from no prison to 56 years.

Two of her neglect charges involve violence against TaJanay and failing to seek treatment. The other two, which likely will be merged, involve unsafe conditions in the apartment, including mice, cockroaches and filth.

Cobb predicts the judge will deliver a stiff sentence. But she prays he will take into account Bailey’s difficult life — a consideration that others, including Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi, say shouldn’t discount her role in TaJanay’s death.

The Indianapolis Star’s review of unsealed juvenile court records last year showed that Charity Bailey was born in California with cocaine in her system. Sexually active by age 9, she later had two delinquency cases and dropped out of Tech High School.

DCS removed TaJanay from her care twice. Caseworkers noted that Bailey refused to leave Green despite alleged domestic abuse.

Bailey and Green have two sons, both in foster care.

Greatest tragedy: You could have been saved

http://www.courierpress.com/news/2009/mar/31/greatest-tragedy-you-could-have-been-saved/

Dear Kalab,

One year ago today, the brutality that took your life away took our breath away.

Your parents remain jailed two miles from your grave, charged with beating you and your twin sister, Kayla.

Your surviving siblings and half siblings are scattered in three family or foster homes in two states.

I wish I could tell you why child protective services didn’t intervene in time to save you or why an Illinois judge sent you to live with your parents in Evansville after you had been with the same foster family for 41 of your 43 months.

I wish I could tell you someone, some agency, some entity had taken responsibility for, or even accepted accountability for, some of the events in the chain inexorably leading to your death from blunt force trauma to the head.

I’m sorry. I can’t.

And, Kalab, I am so sorry you died after days of torture in the place where you should have been cherished and safe. No child deserves to live in the hell that was your home.

You need to know it wasn’t your fault. No matter what you were told, you didn’t do anything wrong. You were completely innocent, pure and worthy of love and protection simply because you were unique to this world and, therefore, precious.

Sometimes, the truth is, monsters wear clever disguises and lurk in familiar places. Sometimes monsters fool the children who love them. Sometimes they trick adults who might be able to help.

You probably won’t believe this, but I met Kayla – once and briefly – when chance brought us together.

Without introduction, she clamored up my legs like a little monkey, wrapped her arms around my shoulders and nestled her beautiful face in my neck.

I buried mine in her shiny dark hair, rocking her gently from side to side, from side to side, from side to side.

That moment will never fade. I barely made it to my car before bursting into tears. I cried for you, for Kayla, for your brothers and sisters, for those who loved you, for those who never met you but will always remember you and for the estimated 1,500 children who die of abuse or neglect in this country every year.

For months, my colleague Kate Braser – I wish you had a chance to know Kate; you would have liked her – and I have been trying to ask the right questions of the right people in the hopes of finding someone who can make sense of your death.

Although Kate no longer works here, she has continued to participate in the effort to tell your story from her hometown near Chicago. Unfortunately, the laws designed to protect the privacy of your family also empower those who might have answers to withhold them.

When someone does provide an answer, inevitably that answer comes hand-in-hand with a host of additional questions.

Your life, in and out of the child welfare systems in two states, and your tragic death cry out for scrutiny. I hear that cry at night, in the dark, where the monsters sometimes hide.

After reviewing thousands of documents related to the investigation of your death, I cannot point to any one individual involved in your case who exhibited either thoughtlessness or intention.

However, the number of warning signs in your file screamed for extra attention.

Father’s criminal history. Red flag. Mother’s childhood abuse. Red flag. Both parents’ use of methamphetamine. Red flag. Increased negative behaviors of children following parental visits. Red flag. Red flag. Red flag. Red flag.

Lack of communication and flexibility within child welfare guidelines also appear to be contributing factors.

Collectively, the system failed.

In the coming months, this newspaper will take an in-depth look at the actions of those responsible for your care within a framework of laws designed to reunite families.

Your life, though short, has mattered more than you could possibly imagine. You united the community, inspired proposed legislation and encouraged a new group to form in an effort to increase awareness about and prevention of child abuse.

Kalab, you have done so much for so many, it is a great tragedy to realize your life actually improved when it was taken away.

The greatest tragedy is that you could have been saved.

- Libby Keeling
(812) 464-7450 or keelingl@courierpress.com

VIGIL TONIGHT
A candlelight vigil remembering Kalab Lay is planned for 7 p.m. today at the Children’s Angel Monument at the Vanderburgh 4-H Center. The gathering will move to Shelter No. 1 if it rains.
Those attending are asked to bring their own candles and royal blue balloons. The balloons will be released simultaneously. Everyone is welcome.
For more information, call (812) 664-8033.

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