Is Child fatality disclosure hindered by Bureaucratic circumventing and ignorance?
Part 2 of a 4 part investigative report
Part 2: Is DSS failure to reply to disclosure requests, breaking the law?
Twenty-six county DSS offices were contacted seeking disclosure about child abuse, neglect and maltreatment fatalities from 2008 to present.
Overall, most counties replied quickly, although there were some issues.
Email addresses for each counties DSS director was obtained from the North Carolina Department of Social Services, Local County Directory, so it could be assumed that these email addresses were correct.
Yet, in two of these disclosure requests, it took 3 to 4 emails in order to obtain a response.
In Memory of Khisha Lachelle Freeman
Death penalty sought in child’s murder case
Published 8:00am Friday, February 19, 2010
WINDSOR, N.C.—The state will seek the death penalty against a local man who stands accused of murdering his 13-month-old-daughter.
The case against 26-year-old Jermaine O’Brien Freeman, formerly of Conway who later moved to Bertie County, has been declared “capital” — meaning state prosecutors have officially informed the court they will seek the death penalty.
Prior to that ruling, the Northampton County Grand Jury returned true bills of indictment against Freeman, who was charged with first degree murder on Dec. 23 for the Dec. 19 death of his daughter, Khisha Lachelle Freeman.
Following the Grand Jury’s ruling, local District Attorney Valerie M. Asbell conducted a Rule 24 hearing where she declared the case as capital and informed the court she would seek the death penalty.
When asked about the nature of a Rule 24 hearing, Asbell said that was one where the District Attorney informs the judge there are aggravating factors for which the death penalty could be sought in a particular case.
Resident Superior Court Judge Cy Grant agreed, ruling that the case could be tried as a death penalty case.
Tonza Ruffin is representing Freeman. No trial date has been scheduled.
Freeman became the leading suspect in the murder following an investigation by Conway Police Chief Billy Duke.
In an earlier interview by this newspaper, Duke said that at 1:20 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 20 he was alerted by Northampton County Central Dispatch who advised him about the child who had been brought by her mother, Tenisha Boyd, at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 19 to Roanoke-Chowan Hospital in Ahoskie. Duke said the attending physician performed tests on the child in which the results had indicated foul play.
“When I got there the child had been pronounced dead,” he said.
Duke said with the assistance of the Northampton County Sheriff’s Office, he was able to interview both Boyd and Freeman.
The child’s body was transported to Pitt Memorial Hospital for an autopsy.
“Those preliminary results indicated the child had died of blunt force trauma (in the head area),” he said.
Duke said he conducted two more follow up interviews with the mother from which Freeman was developed as a suspect.
Duke said he was able to collect evidence which he transported to the State Bureau of Investigation lab in Raleigh.
After speaking with Asbell, Duke drew warrants for Freeman’s arrest.
Upon being served those warrants on Dec. 23, Freeman was behind bars at Bertie Martin Regional Jail on an outstanding warrant (failure to appear in court) with a bond of $5,000. He is now held without bond on the charges of murder and felony child abuse inflicting serious injury.
According to the North Carolina Department of Corrections Web site, Freeman has a list of convictions, including misdemeanor charges for common law forgery and common law uttering and resisting an officer. He was also convicted in Gates County with felony assault inflicting serious body injury in 2008. The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald has been able to confirm that the Gates County case involved a minor child.
In Memory of Kali Bekia Martin
Mom mourns her daughter’s violent death
SUNDAY, MARCH 29, 2009
TROY — Like a lot of little girls, Kali Martin carried her beloved baby doll “Bob” — short for Barbara — with her always.
When she carelessly left bald-headed Bob out in the rain and the doll was crushed by her uncle’s car, the little girl knew she hadn’t been a very good mama.
“She said, ‘Mama, I’m calling social services. I’m calling the police,’ ” Kali’s mother Shannon Martin recalled. “ ‘I left Bob out.’ ”
Four-year-old Kali’s life came to a violent end March 18, and police say it was at the hands of her caretakers, Tonya Dobson Williams and Williams’ fiance, Anthony Ravon Duncan.
Williams and Duncan have been charged with first-degree murder in connection with Kali’s death.
Her 30-year-old mother, imprisoned on drug charges, was helpless to prevent Kali’s death by blunt-force trauma.
Interviewed Saturday in a steamy room at the medium-security Southern Correctional Institution in Troy, Martin said Kali was an old soul. And Martin expressed anger toward the people she trusted to care for three of her children.
“Kali was in their care, and they are responsible for my child,” she said. “I want them to suffer the same way they made Kali suffer.”
Martin grew up in the mountains of Dobson and moved to Greensboro last year with three of her four children, Kali, Alasha, 7, and Zion, 2.
The family lived with her cousin Williams, Duncan and Duncan’s three children, Martin said.
Little Kali liked to mother her little brother Zion and had tastes beyond her years, Martin said.
“She loved babies. She loved home-cooked meals,” her mother said. “There was not a morning that baby did not say, ‘I want my breakfast and I want coffee.’”
When Martin went to prison last year for drug trafficking, she gave temporary custody of the three children to Williams.
Martin said she had known Williams her whole life. And she had seen Duncan take care of the children by playing with them and feeding them.
“I really trusted them,” she said.
Although Martin said she was aware of drug and alcohol use in the house, she said she could not say whether there was a history of violence or physical abuse.
But Martin said Saturday that police investigators told her that Kali had both old and recent bruises on her body when she died, and that a blunt-force trauma to the head killed her daughter.
Martin said she is eager to get out of prison and take back custody of her two youngest children — now in the care of social services — and her eldest child, who lives with her parents.
“I hope they’re not traumatized,” she said.
Martin said she is ready to be a better mother to them. “I’m just stronger and wiser than I’ve ever been,” she said. “God changed me.”
Prison officials took Martin to see her daughter one last time before the funeral.
“I tried to take her out of the casket. I tried to wake her up. She didn’t wake up,” she said. “I still don’t want her in that casket. But she’s gone.”