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Judge Sentences Foster Mom 25-to-Life in Girl’s Death

C. Johnson

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.”

Father of slain boy sues state


Michael Kekoa Ravenell

Michael Kekoa Ravenell


Wrongful death claim: Suit alleges DSHS failed to investigate allegations of abuse

STACEY MULICK; The News Tribune

Published: 07/21/09 12:05 am

Updated: 07/21/09 1:36 pm

The father of a slain 3-year-old boy has sued the state, alleging social workers didn’t fully investigate allegations of child abuse before the boy’s death.

The wrongful death lawsuit, filed by Michael Ravenell last week in Pierce County Superior Court, also contends the state Department of Social and Health Services didn’t protect Michael-Kekoa Ravenell’s younger sister, who also was abused.

The boy died May 28, 2008, after he was hit, choked and thrown onto a bed so hard his head hit an iron rail and he lost consciousness.

Noah Thomas, who was dating Kekoa’s mother at the time, pleaded guilty to homicide by abuse and was sentenced in May to 50 years in prison. Thomas had previously been convicted of assaulting his child.

Sherry Hill, a spokesman for Child Protective Services, said Monday the agency hadn’t seen the lawsuit and doesn’t normally comment on pending litigation.

The children’s mother is also named as a defendant. The suit alleges she knew Thomas was abusing her children and covered for him when social workers investigated. No attorney for the mother could be reached for comment.

In the weeks before his son’s death, Michael Ravenell had alerted Child Protective Services to possible signs of child abuse with his son and daughter. He spotted a bruise near the boy’s left eye and noted a change in his children’s behavior.

“They had become quiet and withdrawn, that they would cry or hide when it was time to go to (their mother’s house),” the lawsuit states.

Two other relatives also reported signs of abuse to the state social workers, according to the suit.

After Kekoa’s death, doctors discovered his sister had a broken jaw that had been healing for some time.

A state review of Kekoa’s death found the social worker assigned to his case had too little experience and missed several steps while investigating the reported bruising. The review also found the worker did not check Thomas’ background.

The social worker was fired shortly after the boy’s death, the agency reported.

The suit was filed on behalf of Kekoa’s estate, his father and his sister. It does not state an amount of compensation for them.

The suit alleges the state had a duty to investigate Michael Ravenell’s child abuse allegations and to take “reasonable cautions” to protect the children. It also alleges the state failed to “exercise reasonable care” in the hiring, training and supervision of the social worker.

Stacey Mulick: 253-597-8268

Mother to sue over son slain in foster care


County should have prevented it, she says

ITHACA – A 14-month-old boy in foster care died due to negligence by the Tompkins County Department of Social Services, according to his mother.

In a notice filed with the claims court, Kristine Freda announced her intention to sue the county in connection with the death of son Adrian Hines last fall. Her attorney, Edward E. Kopko, filed the notice, which alleges that Adrian suffered “severe life-threatening injuries, including head trauma” while in the foster home.

Kopko could not be reached for comment, and the county attorney’s office declined to comment. District Attorney Gwen Wilkinson said that her staff continues to investigate Adrian’s death, but that no criminal charges have been filed.

Around 5:20 p.m. Oct. 2, deputies, Freeville firefighters and Etna firefighters responded to the report of an unresponsive child at the foster home on Etna Road, sheriff’s officials said. Adrian was taken to Cayuga Medical Center and on to Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, where he “subsequently died from injuries he sustained,” they added.

According to sheriff’s officials, an autopsy later determined that Adrian’s death was a homicide.

After Adrian suffered his injuries, a doctor at Upstate Medical Center told Freda that the child was brain dead because of head trauma – including swelling and bleeding of his brain – caused by shaken baby syndrome, the notice went on to say.

“Adrian sustained conscious pain and suffering and wrongful death because of the negligence and recklessness of employees, agents and/or servants of (the Department of Social Services),” the notice alleged.

Among many other functions, DSS “oversees recruitment and retention of qualified, caring families who are willing to provide temporary foster care for children and to work with families toward reunification,” according to its Web site.

The department removed Adrian from Freda’s home in July, the notice said, and filed a neglect petition. The petition alleged that Freda had hit Adrian, shaken him and screamed at him on May 22, 2008, and that she had failed to provide appropriate supervision and make a “sanitary and safe home” for him – all of which Freda had emphatically denied, the papers said.

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“A doctor evaluated Adrian subsequent to May 22, 2008 and found Adrian to be without injury,” the notice said. Nonetheless, DSS placed Adrian in a foster home on July 24, then moved him to the foster home on Etna Road a few days later, according to the notice.

The foster home was “more dangerous of an environment than Freda’s home,” the notice alleges, where Adrian was regularly left in the care of the foster family’s 15-year-old daughter “without adult supervision.”

Adrian died because DSS failed to contact Freda’s extended family to place him in their care and failed to investigate the foster home before placing him in it – all protocols that should’ve been followed, the notice said. The doctor at Upstate Medical Center, who had 30 years of experience, advised Freda that it would be best to take Adrian off life support “and let him die as peacefully as possible,” the notice went to say.

“At 12:28 a.m., Oct. 3, 2008, Adrian died in Freda’s arms,” the notice said. Freda intends to sue for her pain and suffering due to Adrian’s death, along with his medical and funeral expenses, “which have been accumulated in an amount to be determined at trial of this action.”

Fla. gives $9.5M to family of abused boys

Published: June 4, 2009 at 4:16 PM

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., June 4 (UPI) — Florida Gov. Charlie Crist signed into law a $9.5 million claims bill for the adoptive family of three boys raped and abused while in government foster care.

The boys, now ages 17, 16 and 14, will each receive $256,666.66 a year for the next 10 years. The parents will receive annual payments of $90,000.

The money will go to pay for the boys’ education and treatment, The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post reported the parents, identified only as Debbie and Jorge, as saying.

The brothers were found to have been raped, caged and starved in foster care and the Palm Beach County couple who adopted them were unaware of their horrific abuse, even after telling state Department of Children and Families officials they did not want to adopt children with sexual problems, the newspaper said.

The boys later molested other children, killed the family’s pets and tried to poison Debbie, the newspaper said. They also were expelled from school and got in trouble with the law.

They have been receiving treatment out of state for about 18 months, Debbie told Crist.

The family’s story separately led to legal changes that let prospective foster and adoptive parents see the case files of children they consider for care.

© 2009 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


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