Monday, 31 January 2011

ONTARIO: New trial for Tammy Marquardt, imprisoned on baby boy’s death

Kirk Makin : Jan. 31, 2011

A Toronto woman who spent 14 years in prison for killing her baby boy will have her conviction quashed and get a new trial.
In a legal brief unsealed this morning by the Ontario Court of Appeal, the Crown conceded that problems with forensic evidence raise serious doubts about whether Tammy Marquardt was properly convicted.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

FILICIDE (multiple): Indiana: Amanda Bennett

Mon Jan 24, 2011
AUSTIN, Ind. – Investigators say a southern Indiana woman shot her three children and the family dog before setting fire to her home and fatally shooting herself.
State police believe 30-year-old Amanda Bennett carried out the triple murder-suicide at the family's home in the Scott County town of Austin, shooting her three children and herself in the head.
Her body and those of 14-year-old Jasmine Abbott, 9-year-old Katelynn Bennett and 4-year-old Ryan Bennett were found Friday in the partially burned home after worried relatives asked police to check on the family.
State police Sgt. Jerry Goodin said Monday in a statement that the killings were "a tragic case of murder/suicide that claimed three innocent lives.";_ylt=AuviSX1Umj2nbAyV2uzVgMSs0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTNwbzE4aTdjBGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMTEwMTI1L3VzX2ZhdGFsX2luZGlhbmFfZmlyZQRjY29kZQNtb3N0cG9wdWxhcgRjcG9zAzYEcG9zAzMEcHQDaG9tZV9jb2tlBHNlYwN5bl9oZWFkbGluZV9saXN0BHNsawNwb2xpY2VpbmRpYW4-

FILICIDE: California: Crystal Lewis

Jan. 26, 2011: 

The Madera County woman suspected of killing her 5-year-old daughter this week before jumping to her death from a bridge had fought in court to win custody of the girl in 2008, court records show.
But before siding with Crystal Lewis in her bitter custody battle with her ex-boyfriend, a judge ordered her to get counseling because she had used drugs, according to documents in the child custody case in Madera County Superior Court.
The records paint a picture of a family life plagued with violence and drugs. But authorities are still trying to determine why Lewis apparently slashed her daughter's throat.
Autopsies have been completed on Lewis, 23, and her daughter, Marijane Lyn Lewis, but Madera County sheriff's officials are no closer to understanding the motive.
Sheriff's spokeswoman Erica Stuart said toxicology tests on Crystal Lewis' body have been taken, and the results will be available in about three weeks.
"I was in fear for the safety of my daughter and myself," Lewis said.
She detailed a fight in July 2006 when, she said, Gutierrez pushed her to the ground and held her down after threatening to kill her and take away her daughter.
But in his own statement, Gutierrez said Lewis had started that fight. She came to his Coarsegold home and accused him of cheating on her, he said.
"She kept asking why I didn't love her," Gutierrez said in his sworn statement. "Crystal began saying that she was going crazy and she wasn't a good mother and that she can't take care of Marijane."
"She wanted to kill herself and be put away in a mental institution," he said.
Gutierrez said Lewis was upset because a female friend of his was at the house. Lewis threatened to slit the woman's throat and kill her, Gutierrez said.
The friend, Sarah Manning, also gave a sworn statement about the incident, saying Lewis was the aggressor. Lewis kicked, hit and scratched Gutierrez, Manning said.
In September 2006, Lewis told a judge that she had stopped taking drugs. She accused Gutierrez of continuing to use drugs, and she asked the judge for primary custody of their daughter.
The judge ordered Lewis to attend counseling.
On Nov. 14, 2007, Lewis submitted proof to the court that she had attended six sessions with a clinical psychologist.
The judge later gave Lewis primary custody and in April 2008 ordered Gutierrez to make monthly child-support payments of $183.

FILICIDE (multiple): Florida: Julie Powers Scheneker


Julie Powers Schenecker faces two charges of first-degree murder in the deaths of Calyx Powers Schenecker, 16, and Powers Beau Schenecker, 13, said police spokeswoman Laura McElroy. Schenecker admitted the killings, McElroy said.
The father of the children is Army Col. Parker Schenecker, 48, who is stationed at Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base. He was overseas and was notified that his wife had killed their children at their home, 16305 Royal Park Court, police said.
"I don't think there's an explanation that could make us understand. She did tell us that they talk back and they were mouthy," McElroy said.
The children were killed Thursday but were not found until Friday morning, when a police officer responded to the house after an out-of-state relative became concerned when the family couldn't be reached, police said.
No one answered at the house. At the back door, a police officer found the mother covered in blood. Inside, police found the bodies of the children and a note from the mother detailing how she would kill her children and then herself with a .38-caliber pistol.
In the garage, police found Powers shot in the side of the head. Calyx was found dead at a computer in an upstairs room. There did not appear to have been a struggle, police said. "It appears that the children never saw it coming," McElroy said.
Calyx was in the 10th grade pre-International Baccalaureate program at King High School. Powers was in the 8th grade at Liberty Middle School.
Seena Jain, who carpooled with the Schenecker children and her own daughter, Sheema, 15, described the family as quiet. Jain said Col. Schenecker was home a few weeks ago picking up the carpooling shift while his wife recovered from a serious car crash a month ago.
Jain said Calyx was well-mannered and ran track and cross-country.
"Calyx was a very sweet girl, always soft spoken, always quiet," Jain said. "A real sweetheart. I just can't comprehend why this has happened to them."
The police critical incident stress management team, which provides counseling to investigators in stressful situations, was at the "devastating crime scene," McElroy said.
"It's truly a heartbreaking scene," McElroy said.
Mrs. Schenecker was led from Tampa Police Department headquarters dressed in a white, plastic outfit, the type given to suspects when their clothing is seized as evidence.
She did not answer questions from reporters and appeared to be talking to herself or those around her while she was taken to the Orient Road Jail.
Lt. Col. Mike Lawhorn, a U.S. Central Command spokesman, said Parker is assigned to CentCom's "intelligence directorate" and that he has worked for CentCom for over two years.
Schenecker was on a temporary duty assignment overseas the past few days, Lawhorn said. He would not say where but noted Schenecker was working in CentCom's area of responsibility, which includes much of the Middle East.
Lawhorn would not comment about any ties between Schenecker and the National Security Agency, referring questions to the NSA. He is a career military intelligence officer with 28 years of service, according to CentCom.

FILICIDE: USA: statistics teenage children murdered

By Richard Martin and Caryn Baird, Times Staff Writers
In Print: Saturday, January 29, 2011
About 200 children are killed each year in the United States by their mothers or stepmothers, according to government statistics. In the large majority of cases, the victim is under age 6. It's rare for mothers to kill teenagers.
According to data from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, about 3 percent of murder victims ages 15 to 17 are killed by a parent or stepparent. Among victims ages 12 to 14, about 11 percent are killed by a parent or stepparent.
The federal data analyzed the cases of 52,300 children murdered in the United States between 1980 and 2006. Of the 38,700 cases in which the killer was identified, about a third were killed by a parent or stepparent. That agency groups all parent murderers together, but other research suggests mothers are the killers in about half the cases. Among the highest-profile cases in recent years:
October 1994: Susan Smith pushes her car into a South Carolina lake, drowning her 3-year-old and 14-month-old sons.
June 2001: Andrea Yates drowns her five children, ages 6 months to 7 years, in the bathtub of their Houston home.
May 2003: Deanna LaJune Laney confesses to using rocks to bash the heads of her three sons in the yard of her Tyler, Texas, home, killing two of them, ages 6 and 8.
May 2007: Gilberta Estrada of Hudson Oaks, Texas, fashions nooses for her four children, ages 8 months to 5 years, hangs them, then herself. The infant was the only survivor.
February 2008: Leatrice Brewer drowns her three children, all under 6, in the bathtub of her New Cassel, N.Y., apartment.
Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report. Richard Martin can be reached at or (727) 893-8330

Saturday, 29 January 2011

FILICIDE (multiple): Florida: Julie Schenecker

By the CNN Wire Staff
January 29, 2011 -- Updated 1906 GMT (0306 HKT)
Police say Julie K. Schenecker, 50, admitted she killed her teenagers for being mouthy.
Police say Julie K. Schenecker, 50, admitted she killed her teenagers for being mouthy.
(CNN) -- A mother in Tampa, Florida has admitted in detail to killing her two teen-aged children, police said.
Police checking on the family at the request of a relative found Julie K. Schenecker, 50, on the back porch of her home Friday morning, dressed in blood-covered clothing, according to a police statement.
They found her son, Beau Powers Schenecker, 13, dead in the family's SUV, which had been parked in the garage, the statement said. Calyx Powers Schenecker, 16, was in an upstairs bedroom, also dead.
"She did tell us that they talked back, that they were mouthy," Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy told CNN affiliate WTSP. "But I don't think that will ever serve as an explanation to the rest of us of how you could take a child's life."
The woman shot her son as she drove him to soccer practice and returned home to shoot her daughter as she studied on her computer, CNN affiliate WFTS reported, citing investigators.
Police were called to the house after Schenecker's mother called to express concern about her daughter's welfare, saying she was depressed, the police statement said.
Schenecker was initially booked into jail, but was transferred to Tampa General Hospital for treatment of an existing medical condition, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, according to WTSP.
Hundreds of people attended a candlelight vigil on Friday night in memory of the siblings, according to WTSP.
"It's just sad that his mom did this to him and his sister because he didn't deserve this," one of the mourners, Hailey Johnson, told WTSP. "He was the sweetest kid ever."

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

FILICIDE: Ontario: Erika Mendieta

 Megan O'Toole, January 17, 2011 
Erika Mendieta, 33, outside the University Avenue Courthouse, where she was on trial for second-degree murder in the death of her 2-year-old daughter, seen in this November 10, 2009 file photo.
  Photograph by: Peter J. Thompson, National Post
TORONTO — Anguished cries rang out in a Toronto courtroom late Monday after Erika Mendieta was found guilty of manslaughter in the beating death of her two-year-old daughter, Emmily.

Mendieta's family, who packed the court as Justice Nola Garton handed down her lengthy verdict, sobbed as they learned the 34-year-old's fate.

"My daughter is innocent," screamed a distraught Juana Nakata, Mendieta's mother, as she exited court. "How is she going to kill my granddaughter? Never."

One of Mendieta's six children, Blanca, appeared hysterical, sobbing loudly as her father attempted to comfort her. "I lost her. I lost her," the girl cried.

Garton took nearly five hours to deliver her verdict, recounting all the evidence of a case that ended twice in separate mistrials.

While acquitting Mendieta of the higher charge of second-degree murder, citing a lack of intent to kill, Garton concluded she was guilty of manslaughter. The sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 11.

"The evidence establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that Ms. Mendieta caused the injuries that led to Emmily's death," Garton stated, noting the accused "struck Emmily a number of times in the head and body" in the incident leading to the toddler's death.

In delivering her ruling, the judge heaped scorn on Mendieta's credibility as a witness, suggesting she conspired with her boyfriend to conceal her own culpability.

Emmily died in 2003 after police found her bruised and battered body inside the home where the two-year-old lived with her mother and her boyfriend, Johnny Bermudez.

Mendieta — who listened attentively to Monday's judgment, wearing a white winter coat and with striking blond highlights colouring her dark hair — was charged with second-degree murder following a police investigation of the death, which emergency officials had immediately flagged as suspicious.

Though Mendieta suggested to paramedics that her daughter's injuries were the result of an earlier fall down the stairs, the pattern of bruising indicated multiple sources of trauma, the court heard.

Little Emmily, who was just 88 centimetres long when she died, ultimately succumbed to severe head injuries.

The judge highlighted inconsistencies in Mendieta's testimony, including the accused's recollection of the date her daughter was supposed to have fallen down the stairs. Garton also pointed to an intercepted conversation between Mendieta and Bermudez, in which the accused cried: "I didn't want her to die . . . She was a really good kid . . . I didn't mean to."

The defence has suggested Mendieta blamed herself for her child's death because she had failed to bring her to hospital right after the initial fall, but Garton cited it as evidence of her "crisis of conscience."

Mendieta's case has encountered numerous difficulties as it has worked its way through the court system.

The first mistrial was declared after Bermudez claimed responsibility for Emmily's death, testifying under the protection of the Canada Evidence Act.

Bermudez told the court he slapped and pushed the toddler, frustrated by her crying. But Bermudez was evasive on a number of points, including how often Mendieta disciplined her six children, and the Crown ultimately dismissed his testimony as not credible.

"His entire story about assaulting Emmily is a lie . . . Ms. Mendieta and Mr. Bermudez have discussed their evidence together and agreed to alter it," Garton suggested.

A second mistrial was declared after a Crown attorney allegedly made faces at Mendieta while she testified, which the judge said may have hampered the jury's ability to assess her truthfulness.

Outside court, Emmily's biological father, Derrick Parra, said he was relieved the ordeal had reached its conclusion over seven years after his daughter's death.

"It's finally over," Parra said. "My daughter can rest in peace now."

INFANTICIDE: New York State: Nicole deJaynes

Liverpool (WSYR-TV) - A medical examiner's report released on Wednesday shows that an infant found dead in a dumpster in Liverpool two weeks ago was born alive, then suffocated.
The cause of death for the child, whom the Liverpool Police Department adopted and named "Isabel Marie," was suffocation.
"The medical examiner notified us that he's completed his findings, that in his opinion the baby was born alive and the cause of death is suffocation," said Chief Assistant District Attorney Rick Trunfio.
The District Attorney's Office did not provide details regarding the method by which she was suffocated but noted that she was killed soon after her birth.
The infant's mother, Nicole DeJaynes, was arrested on Friday and charged with murder. She is being held at the Onondaga County Justice Center without bail, but the district attorney's office needed the medical examiner's report before it could proceed to prosecute based on the charges.
"We know the baby was born alive and we know the baby was suffocated, now the question becomes all those legal issues, intent, circumstances of suffocation, these are all things we're working on, those are the legal definitions...what we were waiting on was the medical definition," Trunfio said.
Onondaga County County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick said that the case will now go before an Onondaga County Grand Jury, which will determine what charge or charges DeJaynes will ultimately face.
Authorities know the identity of the child's father, but say he is not a suspect at this point. Police say they would like to discuss the case with him, however.
DeJaynes was arrested on January 14, a few hours after Liverpool Police said they would not arrest her until the medical examiner's report was complete. However, after she was released from a medical exam, she was formally charged because she was deemed to be a potential flight risk by the district attorney's office.
Liverpool Police plan on giving the infant they've adopted a funeral once the body has been returned to them. DeJaynes' parents have told the police that they would like to participate in the funeral but have no money to contribute.

Mother charged with murder of newborn due in court Thursday
Jan. 17

Liverpool (WSYR-TV) - A Liverpool woman charged in the death of her newborn is due back in court on Thursday.
29-year-old Nicole DeJaynes' baby girl was found dead in a dumpster outside a Liverpool apartment complex nearly two weeks ago. On Friday, investigators said they planned to hold off on charges against her until an autopsy on the baby was complete.
Prosecutors say those plans changed when DeJaynes was unexpectedly released from a medical facility where she was being treated for issues relating to the birth. The baby's cause of death has yet to be revealed. Autopsy results could be complete in the coming days.
If convicted of murder, DeJaynes faces 25 years to life in prison.

Mother charged with murder had history with Child Protective Services
Jan. 16

Nicole DeJaynes
Nicole DeJaynes
SYRACUSE, NY (WSYR-TV) - The Onondaga County District Attorney's Office says the 29-year old mother of the baby found in a dumpster, also has a 5-year old child.They say Nicole DeJaynes has had a history with Child Protective Services, but they could not elaborate any further.
While the D.A.'s office cannot go into specifics as to what led up to the infant's death, Nicole DeJaynes was charged Friday night, after she was unexpectedly released from a medical facility which was supposed to notify police beforehand.
"A doctor at that facility made the decision to release her on his own," said Rick Trunfio, Chief Assistant District Attorney.
Earlier in the day, the district attorney had said charges would not be filed until the medical examiner completed his evaluation of the baby, named Isabella Marie by police.
"That change in circumstances combined with the risk of flight, we sped up our time table in regard to what charge and when we would do it. Right now the theory is an intentional theory, that she intended to kill her newborn," said Trunfio.
Trunfio tells us DeJaynes 5-year old child is now being cared for by her mother. He says a final autopsy on baby Isabella is not yet done.
"We're waiting toxicology, we're awaiting some results on microscopic films, so at that point we'll sit down with the medical examiner and we'll finalize the cause and manner of death," said Trunfio.
If convicted, DeJaynes faces up to 25 years to life in prison. The D.A.'s office says they know who the child's father is. But they have not been in contact with him as of right now.
DeJaynes is being held at the justice center with no bail. She was arraigned Friday night and could have another court appearance as early as next week.

Mother of baby found in dumpster charged
Jan. 14

Liverpool (WSYR-TV) - The mother who allegedly left her newborn baby in a dumpster near a Liverpool apartment building was charged with murder in connection with the child's death.
29-year old Nicole DeJaynes was charged Friday night with second degree murder after being unexpectedly released from the medical facility where she was being evaluated. DeJaynes was arraigned Friday night in Liverpool Village Court, and committed to the Onondaga County Justice Center.
Liverpool Police Chief William Becker says DeJaynes was originally tracked down through information provided by the Department of Social Services. She was staying with friends.
Earlier Friday, District Attorney William Fitzpatrick said DeJaynes would not be charged until the medical examiner completed his evaluation of the child - named Isabella Marie by Liverpool police. Fitzpatrick decided to file the charges because of DeJaynes release and because he believed she might be a flight risk.

Mother of dead Liverpool infant found, charges still undecided

Liverpool (WSYR-TV) - The mother of an infant found dead and laying in a dumpster in Liverpool has been identified by village police as a 29-year-old who lives in the area. Police say they've interviewed the woman, but the charges that will be brought against her remain unclear.
The mother is currently being treated for medical issues relating to the incident. No charges have been filed yet against her or anyone else involved in the incident because the medical examiner's hasn't completed a final report on the child's cause of death.
"I'm not going to plea bargain the case right now, but obviously if the child was born alive and intentionally killed by the mother, then we will charge her with murder in the second degree. if the medical examiner has some difficulty determining to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that Isabella was in fact born alive, then that may affect what decision we make in terms of offering her some disposition short of a murder plea," said District Attorney William Fitzpatrick.
Liverpool Police agreed to "adopt" the infant, and named her Isabella Marie. They add that they've received an outpouring of community support during the investigation of this case and even offers to pay for Isabella Marie's funeral services or headstone.

Baby girl found dead in dumpster named by Liverpool Police
January 12

Liverpool (WSYR-TV) - Liverpool Police have named the infant girl discovered dead in a dumpster outside an apartment complex last Thursday Isabella Marie. The department announced Tuesday it would handle funeral arrangements for the infant.
Police are still looking for the baby's mother. Anyone with information is asked to call 457-0722.

Liverpool Police will handle funeral for infant found in dumpster
January 11

Liverpool (WSYR-TV) - Liverpool Police say they will "adopt" the infant found dead in a dumpster last Thursday, just a day after being born. When the body is released, the department will make arrangements for a funeral and burial.
Prosecutors say they're making progress in their investigation, as they work to find the parents that left their newborn in the dumpster outside an apartment complex on Pearl Street in the Village. They report following many leads provided by tips from the public and the Department of Social Services.
The preliminary autopsy of the child is complete, but details about the gender and the condition of its birth are not being released at this time. Such information could play a role in criminal charges.
Police originally said they believed the parents were likely residents of the area, but Assistant District Attorney Rick Trunfio says they're keeping open the possibility the mother was simply passing through.

Police put in long hours to find parents of Liverpool baby
January 8

Liverpool police discovered the body of a deceased newborn baby in a dumpster late Thursday night. (Eddie Jones, WSYR-TV NewsChannel 9) 
Liverpool police discovered the body of a deceased newborn baby in a dumpster late Thursday night. (Eddie Jones, WSYR-TV NewsChannel 9)
Liverpool (WSYR-TV) - The Onondaga County District Attorney's Office says the investigation into how a newborn baby ended up inside a dumpster Thursday night is a criminal investigation.
ADA Rick Trunfio says the case has always been considered a criminal investigation because of the way the child’s body was found.
Trunfio says the preliminary autopsy is now complete.
Meanwhile, Liverpool Police are putting in extra hours to follow leads.  They are still searching for the parents who left their newborn baby in a dumpster outside the Pearl Street Apartment complex.
Liverpool Police Chief William Becker said a man, later identified as Michael Denardo, found the baby while searching through the dumpster. "As soon as he identified it as being a child and not a toy, he was extremely quick to contact our agency," Becker said.
"I had to get away from that for a few minutes, because it made me sick to my stomach. I just had to hurry up, get down to the… I just thought I had to get down to the police station and let them know this," Denardo said.
Chief Becker says the baby was born Thursday, and left in the dumpster the same day. No attempt was made to conceal the child.
Denardo's friend, Larry Boyer of Liverpool, said Denardo was looking for spare wood in the dumpster. He added that his friend was very distraught by finding the baby. "He was over at my house last night and he is messed up about it. He really was. I tried giving him any support he wanted," Boyer said.
Liverpool Deputy Fire Chief Jason Ormsby was one of the first on scene after the child was reported. On the way there, he hung onto hope that it wouldn't turn out the way it did. "You just hope it's not going to be a real baby that maybe it was just a doll or something of the sorts," he said. "It definitely makes you upset. Initially you always want to ask, 'why?'"
Early Friday morning, the police canvassed a nearby apartment complex and removed the dumpster the infant was found near as well as one 15 feet away. The police took the dumpsters to a secure location to search them for evidence. They finished collecting evidence from the dumpsters around 6 a.m. and anticipated returning them to the site. "We were able to take our time to search for any physical evidence that might have been left along with the child," Becker said.
Chief Becker said police were concerned that the snow would damage evidence that might be in the containers.
Police believe the mother is from the immediate area, and are trying to locate the parents. They urge anyone with information to come forward, and say they've already received some credible tips from the public. "Some of it has been very helpful. Some of it has given us new direction to take our investigation as well," Chief Becker said.

Safe Haven Law provides refuge for children

Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - On Thursday night, a dead infant was discovered in a dumpster in a Liverpool apartment complex, but the nearby Liverpool Fire Department would have provided a refuge for the child along with anonymity for the mother.
The Safe Haven Law provides parents with a safe alternative for children that parents cannot keep. According to the law, children can be dropped off at a fire house, a police station, or a hospital.
The Syracuse Fire Department recently gave such a child refuge.
"They need to know there's a place that'll accept the child, take good care of the child and do whatever it needs to make the child safe," Syracuse City Deputy Fire Chief Ed Kurtz.
Under the law, the parent cannot be prosecuted for abandonment if the infant is five days old or fewer. In addition, the parent must intend for the infant to be safe from harm and they must leave the baby with an appropriate person.
"We see tragedy all the time. And, if we can avert one it's something we want to do. All people are more than willing to accept a child, they want to do this," Kurtz said.

Fire Departments are trained for such situations. They send the child to the hospital for evaluation, call child protective services, and complete the appropriate paperwork, but the parent does not have to leave their name.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

FILICIDE: Massachusetts: Li Rong Zhang used wok as means to murder her 8-year-old son, investigators say

By Jack Encarnacao
Jan 14, 2011
Li Rong Zhang was not using the silver, charcoal-fired wok to cook a meal for her 8-year-old son inside her Germantown apartment. She was using it to kill him, and herself, investigators said.
In a Boston hospital room Friday, Zhang, 39, was arraigned for her son’s murder after police say a motionless Brandon Yang was found face-down on a bed in the apartment. Police said poisonous fumes had left Zhang unconscious on the bedroom floor.
At a press conference Friday, police said a large bureau had been placed in front of the door, an apparent attempt to block access to the room where the wok was burning Thursday.
Meanwhile, officials are investigating the response to a smoke alarm call a resident in the same building said she placed two hours before Zhang and her son were found, a call that never reached the fire department.
The announcement that Zhang is charged with murder capped a day of mourning in city schools for Brandon Yang, a standout student at Snug Harbor Community School.
“Brandon was one of those kids that every teacher wanted to have in their class,” Principal Dan Gilbert said. “He was adored by our school teachers and students alike, and he was just a model of what a student should be.”
Gilbert said Brandon had been recognized by the school for exemplary behavior such as friendliness and good attendance. Brandon did not attend school Thursday, School Superintendent Richard DeCristofaro said.
Firefighters responding to a call placed by Zhang’s other son, 16-year-old Deming Yang, discovered Brandon’s body inside the Yardarm Lane apartment in Germantown.
According to a police affidavit, Deming Yang told police he arrived home from school at about 3:30 p.m. Thursday and tried to enter the building through the rear and front doors, both of which were locked. Yang “said that it was unusual for both doors to be locked,” according to the affidavit, written by State Police investigator Brian Brooks.
The affidavit said Yang eventually forced his way in through the front door and went to his second-floor bedroom, which was empty. He then went to his mother’s room, but the door was locked. He kicked it several times but was unable to get inside. He called 911.
Firefighters arrived at about 3:44 p.m. and used a crowbar to break the bedroom door lock. They found Zhang and her son along with a wok, a lighter and charcoal briquettes.
Lt. Shawn Darcy and firefighter John Christiani administered CPR to Zhang and Brandon outside the home. Brandon was pronounced dead at 4:50 p.m. at Quincy Medical Center. Zhang was taken to Boston Medical Center.
The affidavit states Zhang was treated for carbon monoxide poisoning and smoke inhalation.
An autopsy Friday on Brandon Yangindicated a need for further tests before his cause of death could be determined, Norfolk County District Attorney Michael Morrissey said.
After she had sufficiently recovered, Zhang was arraigned Friday afternoon in the intensive care unit of Boston Medical Center. She is being held without bail until a Jan. 28 hearing.
“Once she is capable and able to be removed, she will be taken to another secure facility,” Morrissey said. “She will remain, at least for the foreseeable future, in a Boston hospital under guard and under arrest.”
Quincy Police Chief Paul Keenan said the grounds for a murder charge were established through witness interviews and evidence collected in a late-night search of the apartment after a warrant had been obtained.
Keenan said investigators believe Zhang was trying to commit a murder-suicide. No suicide note was found.
Zhang was divorced from the father of her two children, according to a court document.
Keenan said police received a call from someone in the apartment in 2005 because of a verbal altercation between Zhang and her ex-husband. Charges were not pressed and a restraining order was not sought, he said.
Alison Goodwin, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Children and Families, declined to say if the agency had any prior involvement with the family. The father is caring for his 16-year-old son, she said.

Australia: Parents of drowned toddler 'asked about euthanasia', inquest hears

Amy Dale:  January 10, 2011
THE PARENTS of a severely disabled toddler who drowned in an inflatable pool made inquiries about euthanasia, an inquest has been told.
The two-year-old girl, who cannot be named, was discovered face down in the pool at her Curl Curl home in December 2007.
In the months before her death, she had been diagnosed with Rett Syndrome, a neurological condition that occurs almost exclusively in girls and results in a deterioration in speech, balance and co-ordination.
In his opening to Deputy State Coroner Scott Mitchell, counsel assisting the inquest Steven Kelly said the parents had been "shocked" by their daughter's condition and upset that it had ruined their "idyllic" Northern Beaches lifestyle.
"(The father) said that (the girl) was dragging us down," Mr Kelly said
"(He asked during a meeting with DOCS workers) why do they keep disabled children alive?"
The inquest heard a foster care placement had been secured just weeks before the toddler's death, but her parents declined it because her grandmother was coming to stay.
Mr Kelly said the inquest would examine whether her drowning was accidental or whether it had been a "deliberate act."

FILICIDE: Ontario: Nadine Bernard sentenced to life in prison for murdering her own child

Jan 14 2011
An undated photograph of Jayden Bernard. His mother, Nadine Bernard, pleaded guilty to his murder on Friday, Jan. 14, 2011. She was sentenced to life in prison.
An undated photograph of Jayden Bernard. His mother, Nadine Bernard, pleaded guilty to his murder on Friday, Jan. 14, 2011. She was sentenced to life in prison.
Bob Mitchell Staff Reporter
On March 11, 2009, Nadine Bernard told a co-worker she would rather kill her baby boy than watch the baby’s father and wife raise him. She meant it. Less than three weeks later, Bernard hooked a hose to the exhaust of her car and put it into the rear window near her 18-month-old son, Jayden, then waited until the carbon monoxide fumes took his life. Bernard pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to an automatic life prison sentence on Friday. Jayden was an innocent victim used as a pawn in a deteriorating custody battle, Crown prosecutor Sandra Caponecchia told a Brampton court. Eighteen months old, the baby was born as the result of an affair between Bernard, 34, and Richard Williams, her co-worker at Brinks Canada. Caponecchia described how Williams initially hid Jayden’s existence from his wife, Joy. After she discovered Jayden’s Christening card, Williams ended his affair. Bernard then blocked his attempts to see Jayden — whom he had visited when his wife, a pediatric nurse, was at work — so Williams went to court for access. He won partial custody, devastating Bernard. In addition to killing Jayden, she may have had other plans. When investigators searched her car, they found a handwritten letter. “This is just an early note to wish you and your family a wonderful Christmas. My Christmas gift to you this year is to take everything you love away from you. That includes your wife and kids,” Bernard wrote in the note, which appeared to be for Williams. “The kid outside of wedlock counts too. My plan to destroy you is working perfectly. I will not rest until my plan is executed . . . Payback is a bitch.” Bernard didn’t suffer from any mental illness. By all accounts, she was a hard worker at Brinks and a good mother to her two other children from a previous relationship, who are now 13 and 16. But she was suffering from a depressive episode when she murdered her son, court heard. After a Thanksgiving trip, Bernard made a false report to police that Joy Williams had left a threatening note on her car. After being denied access to Jayden, Williams got a court date for March 12, 2009 and access was granted for every Thursday and Sunday. Bernard refused. She quit her job on March 23. Three days later, instead of delivering Jayden as agreed, Bernard purchased a 10-foot black dishwasher hose and a roll of duct tape at a Home Hardware store and drove her son to the underground parking garage at 1 Robert Speck Dr. in Mississauga. Bernard and Williams worked in the building and Jayden also attended the daycare there. Bernard entered the parking garage at 9:36 a.m. and parked her car in a spot at 11:36 a.m. and connected the hose between the exhaust pipe and the rear window where Jayden’s car seat was located. Surveillance footage shows the car remained in its spot throughout the day and night until the next morning, when Bernard moved it to another spot, the hose no longer attached. She called 911 at 7:50 a.m. She declined to perform CPR after telling the operator her baby was dead. Bernard also tried but failed to kill herself. Police found her confused; she had urinated in her clothes. She told officers that she had fallen asleep with Jayden in her arms. A sticky note taped to the centre console of the car read: “Mom and Dad. I am sorry. This is the only way I could protect Jayden from Richard and Joy.” Defence lawyer John Struthers agreed the case was a tragedy for both families but insisted what happened that day was totally out of character. He said Williams misled her about his family situation. She believed her lover had had a vasectomy; her pregnancy was unplanned. For Williams, the heartache, anguish and guilt will never end. “What God allows this evil to be perpetrated on our children?” Williams said while delivering his victim impact statement. “Which God heard his silent cry for help while this monstrosity was set on him and didn't allow him to be saved? “What God allows such an angel to be surrounded by so much hate and evil until it suffocates him? “It breaks my heart to know that after four months of being denied access to my son by his mother, it was at a funeral home that I gave him his last hug.” Bernard didn’t apologize before Justice Bruce Durno passed his sentence. She declined to say anything at all. “She committed ultimate abuse of trust in killing an innocent, young, and defenceless child,” Durno said. As Williams put it: “The ultimate act of murder was to break the loving bond of a father and son . . . the pain is as raw as the very first time my son slept over in his tiny urn with the night light on in his room.”

Monday, 17 January 2011

FILICIDE: Texas: Mona Yvette Nelson

 03 Jan 2011
HOUSTON - A woman accused in the murder of a missing 12-year-old boy was back in court Monday morning.
Mona Yvette Nelson, 44, was in the Harris County courtroom to ensure she knew her rights as she faces a capitol murder charge in the death of Jonathan Foster.
The young boy disappeared from his mother's apartment in Garden Oaks on Christmas Eve. The former maintenance worker was arrested last week after Foster's badly burned body was found only miles from his home in north Houston.
Harris County Assistant District Attorney Connie Spence says she's not sure if there will any more arrests in the case. Spence says her next step is to take Nelson before a grand jury to get an indictment.
Community activist Quanell X says Nelson admitted to dumping the child's body in a ditch near the Hardy Toll Road. However, Nelson maintains she was paid $20 by Foster's step-father to dump what she thought was trash.
Prosecutors reinforced a position made by homicide detectives: they believe Nelson acted alone.
Nelson's oldest sister, Angie Johnson, says she knows her sibling did not kill the young boy.
"She's had her problems, but she would never hurt a child," Johnson says.
Johnson says Nelson has two children and five grand kids of her own.

FILICIDE (multiple): Alabama: Heather Levell-Keaton


By MELISSA NELSON; AP staff writer Ray Henry contributed to this report from Atlanta:  January 7, 2011;
MOBILE, Ala. -- A prosecutor said Friday he will file capital murder charges against a woman accused in courtroom testimony of beating her common-law husband's two children while they were bound, calling them "demon spawns from hell," and letting them die. Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson Jr. said he decided to seek tougher charges against Heather Leavell-Keaton, 22, after getting new information on the same day as the gruesome testimony. Tyson would not disclose what his office learned, citing the ongoing probe. The prosecutor said he has not decided whether to seek the death penalty against Leavell-Keaton. Leavell-Keaton, who is already jailed on other charges, will have a hearing next week on the two new counts against her. "This is an awful, awful set of facts and circumstances," Tyson said.
During a hearing Friday, investigators testified that Leavell-Keaton told police that the children's father, 27-year-old John DeBlase, used rat poison to kill his children and dumped their bodies in woods of south Mississippi and Alabama. He is charged with two counts of felony murder and two counts of corpse abuse in the deaths of 3-year-old Chase and 4-year-old Natalie DeBlase.
The judge ruled at the preliminary hearing for DeBlase and Leavell-Keaton that there was probable cause to send the case to a grand jury.
Leavell-Keaton, who is legally blind and not the children's biological mother, was earlier charged with aggravated child abuse and abuse of a corpse.
During testimony, Angela Prine of the Mobile Police Department recounted DeBlase's statement to detectives that Natalie died last March 4 after Leavell-Keaton duct-taped her hands, feet and mouth and put her in a suitcase. DeBlase said he attended classes and returned about 10 p.m., finding Natalie still in the suitcase and dead.
Leavell-Keaton sat in a chair at the side of the court and appear to mutter to herself as Prine read DeBlase's statements. Later, Leavell-Keaton mouthed, "That's a lie."
Attorneys for DeBlase have said he maintains his innocence.
According to DeBlase's statement to detectives, the girl's body was buried after he stopped at a store to buy a shovel and drove to a rural site in Alabama, with Leavell-Keaton and his son in the car.
He said Chase died last June 20 after Leavell-Keaton got angry during potty training and the child urinated on himself. She duct-taped his hands and legs, bound a broomstick behind his back, and later stuffed a sock in his mouth, according to the father's statement to detectives. DeBlase went to bed, saying he was still stressed out about Natalie's death and wanted Chase freed by the time he got up, but the boy was dead in the morning.
According to the testimony, he put the body in a garbage bag and drove to Mississippi to bury it.
The police department's Prine testified that DeBlase first told detectives his children were kidnapped by masked men at a park on Fathers' Day. He later said the children were tortured and killed by Leavell-Keaton.
But Prine testified that Leavell-Keaton told detectives DeBlase killed the children. She described to detectives how each had vomited a black substance before dying.
Prine also read interviews from various witnesses who described abuse by Leavell-Keaton of the children. Prine said Dana Mullins told detectives the family lived nearby for three weeks in December 2008 and that Leavell-Keaton beat Natalie, forced her to sit for lengthy periods in a chair and called her "evil brat" and "whore."
Creighton Hobbs, an acquaintance of DeBlase's, said he saw Leavell-Keaton shake the children, call them "demon spawns from hell" and put them in a corner.
The bodies were found in December when Leavell-Keaton, seeking a protective order after moving to Kentucky, disclosed they were dead. Authorities said DeBlase took them to the sites.
The couple had separate arraignments Thursday. DeBlase, his hands in handcuffs, looked down and showed no reaction as details of the children's torture and deaths were read.
According to testimony, the biological mother, Corrine Heathcock, had not seen the children for more than a year when they died.
Darryl Bender, an attorney for Leavell-Keaton, said his client feared for her life and that of the now 7-month-old child she had with DeBlase. He said toxicology tests could prove the children were poisoned.
And Bender questioned why none of the people who gave statements to detectives about the children's abuse called authorities to report the couple.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

AHT: Ontario: April Luckese

Jennifer Yang Staff Reporter : Jan 9 2011
April Luckese appears in court, Jan. 8, 2011.
April Luckese appears in court, Jan. 8, 2011.
Alex Tavshunsky/For The Toronto Star
  At just 14 months old, Duy-An Nguyen was already reading, singing and taking her first tottering steps. Relatives say she was a “scary smart” baby — one who had already discovered the joys of YouTube — and among her favourite things were a children’s DVD and an owl-shaped book called “Whoo’s there?” But never again will Duy-An read her owl book or sing along to her favourite video. On Saturday, her uncle brought the little girl’s treasured items to a funeral home in Brampton, where they will eventually be placed inside her casket. Johnson Nguyen also brought a photograph of his niece and goddaughter, one Duy-An personally picked to be displayed at her first birthday party back in October. In the portrait, the little girl is kneeling and wearing a rosary, holding one hand over her heart. Her eyes are looking skyward. “She chose that one,” said Nguyen, a smile tugging at his lips. “And now we’re looking back . . . (and thinking) she chose to be a saint.” On Friday, Duy-An died at Sick Kids hospital after being taken off life support. She had suffered “severe head trauma,” according to Nguyen. The baby’s death came two days after she was found unconscious and unresponsive at a Mississauga home. The Asta Dr. duplex belongs to 35-year-old April Luckese, who also operates an unlicensed daycare out of the location called April’s Daycare. The Nguyen family had planned that Wednesday — the very day Duy-An was injured — would be her last under Luckese's care, the uncle said, adding the family had made other arrangements. Luckese was initially charged with aggravated assault endangering a life and released on $15,000 bail. On Friday, she was arrested again and charged with second-degree murder. Wearing a light-blue winter coat, Luckese appeared briefly in a Brampton court Saturday morning. The heavy-set woman with closely-cropped light brown hair said her name softly for the court and had her case remanded to Tuesday. A publication ban has been placed on the court proceedings. As Luckese exited the courtroom, she looked at her husband Robert, who sat in the back row with his hand frequently held to his mouth, occasionally biting on his knuckles. Outside the courthouse, Luckese’s lawyer Bruce Daley explained he was concerned for Luckese’s safety and had requested for his client to be placed in segregation while under custody. “When a person is in custody, quite often on a charge like this, other inmates are not particularly kind,” he said. “So I wanted to be as protective as the system would allow.” “At the moment, she's presumed to be innocent and she ought not be put in any physical jeopardy whatsoever.” Outside the Luckeses’ home Saturday afternoon, someone had taped a teddy bear to a tree in the front yard, along with a red sign that said, “Every Canadian mother is heartbroken. Du-Yan (sic) Nguyen R.I.P.” The Nguyen’s maroon SUV was also still parked in the front yard, a pink baby seat in the back and a stroller in the trunk. It had being sitting there, accumulating snow, since Wednesday afternoon when Duy-An’s mother, An, came to pick her daughter up for the last time. Wednesday was also just the second time Duy-An had been in daycare, Johnson Nguyen said. Her parents planned on pulling her out the next day, he added. He said his sister and her husband, Loc Nguyen, had always been reluctant to entrust their beloved only child to another person’s care. The couple resorted to April’s Daycare only after the mother’s maternity leave expired and An returned to work selling hearing aids, Nguyen said. But after using Luckese’s services for just two days, An Nguyen received permission to start bringing the baby to work, her brother explained. “She was so excited, because she knows that she can take her along (to work now),” he said. “But she never got that chance.” Duy-An was already unconscious at about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, when Trevor Doyle arrived at Luckese’s home to pick up his 2-year-old son from April’s Daycare. A couple of other mothers were already there, Doyle said, and everyone seemed upset. “I say, what’s going on?” Doyle recalled. “And they say ‘We’ve got a problem. We’ve got a non-responsive child.” Soon after, a “weeping” Luckese came down the stairs cradling an Asian baby in her arms, Doyle said. She told him the baby wouldn’t wake up. “She turned the baby to me so I could see the baby’s face,” Doyle said, adding that he didn’t see any visible signs of injury. “I hold the arm and could feel a very slight pulse.” Doyle said he asked if anyone had called 911 yet; nobody had. One woman said the baby’s mother was contacted and hadn’t seemed overly-concerned. This was when Doyle began to feel “hotheaded,” he said. “I raised my voice and said call 911 now.” Within minutes, the paramedics had arrived. Shortly after entering the home, one paramedic came “sprinting” out with the baby in his arms, according to Doyle. He could see that the baby was bare-chested and had what looked to be electrocardiogram stickers on her chest. “He was going to go through that door if it wasn’t wide open, he would have broken it down,” he said. “He was moving, this guy.” The baby’s mother arrived shortly after, he said, walking directly to the police. She spoke with them intently and then got inside the ambulance, which drove away minutes later, Doyle said. At that point, Doyle said he went back to the door and Luckese came to the door. “She repeated that she was sorry. She said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry,’ ” Doyle said, adding he did not know what Luckese was apologizing for. In Ontario, the government gives licenses to daycare agencies, not individuals, and unlicensed daycares are perfectly legal so long as the caregiver is minding five or fewer children — not including their own — under the age of 10. April’s Daycare has been operating as an unlicensed child-care provider since 2007, when it was dropped by a licensed agency called Kiddie Kare Inc., which trains and monitors child-care workers. Kiddie Kare executive director Janice Luckese, a distant cousin, said she dropped April’s Daycare because it exceeded the number of infants allowed, even after a warning. A few other parents familiar with April's Daycare also reported seeing Luckese caring for too many children. One neighbour, who asked not to be named, said she interviewed Luckese four months ago when seeking child care for her 1-year-old son. While impressed with Luckese’s qualifications, including an early childhood education certification and 15 years of experience, she opted to take her son elsewhere. “She just had way too many kids,” said the neighbour, who remembers Luckese was already caring for five children under the age of 3 at the time. Another woman, whose son attends the same elementary school as Luckese’s, said she’s seen the caregiver with up to seven kids at a time, on top of looking after her own two boys. “She seemed very stressed, very high-strung,” said the woman, who also declined to be named. But Trevor Doyle, who had been using April’s Daycare for about five weeks, said he never saw Luckese with more than a few children at a time. Doyle said he has been more than happy with Luckese’s services, for which he paid $150 a week. “I thought she was a wonderful lady, a wonderful caregiver,” he said. Bernadine Hoime, who took her son to April’s Daycare five years ago, said she also never noticed anything out of the ordinary, other than that Luckese occasionally seemed stressed and “flustered.” On Saturday, Hoime drove all the way to Luckese’s Mississauga home from Malton, where she now lives. She can’t quite explain why she felt compelled to see the place where she once left her son for hours at a time. “I don’t know, something told me to just come by,” Hoime said. “I’m freaked out. I’m very leery now (of daycare), for sure.”

Friday, 7 January 2011

Ontario: April Luckese charged

A daycare owner has been charged with second-degree murder after a 14-month-old girl died following an incident at a Toronto-area daycare.
The child had been taken to hospital Wednesday night and police say she died today.
April Luckese, 35, was charged with aggravated assault and released on bail after the incident at the daycare in the QEW and Cawthra Road area.
She was re-arrested today and charged with second-degree murder.
An online posting for April's Daycare described it as a “safe, loving and nurturing home environment.”
“Mother of two boys offering child care in my home,” the posting, which has been removed from the website, read.
“Over 15 years experience working with kids. CPR and First Aid certified. Smoke-free home. Nutritious lunch and snacks provided. Fully fenced yard with sand box, slide and many other toys.”
The one review posted to the site read: “April's Daycare provides a safe, clean environment.”

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Dubai: Mother Gives Birth at the Airport, Strangles the Child to Death, Dumps It & Proceeds to Catch Flight

 29 December 2010

  • A woman, possibly Ethiopian and in her mid-thirties, gave birth to her child in a Dubai International Airport toilet before boarding a flight. It appears that she ripped the umbilical cord apart with her bare hands as a chef would do with sausage links, and suffocated the newborn before trashing it. It's likely that a cloth was used to stifle the child's breathing, before it was barbarically tied up with its own umbilical cord and stuffed within the confines of a plastic bag.
    The blood-ridden bathroom stall rightfully caught the attention of a passenger, who proceeded to contact an airport cleaner upon noticing a trail of blood that led to the garbage bin. After encountering this scene straight out of a horror film, the newborn was lifted and unwrapped. Still gasping for air, the child passed away moments later after a failed revival by the rescue team. The airport cleaner later stated, "...I decided to empty the waste bin which was covered with paper rolls. When I lifted it I found it to be a little heavier, so I got curious and started removing the tissue papers. I was stunned to see a baby all blue on the face and gasping for breath."

    The most likely scenario is that the woman, who became pregnant out of wedlock, was trying to leave the UAE (United Arab Emirates) before giving birth to avoid a maximum sentence of three years in prison. Having been unfortunate enough to give birth before leaving, she opted to end the life of an innocent child in an attempt to keep herself out of prison. It's a criminal offense to have sexual relations or give birth to a child outside of wedlock in the UAE.
    What a waste of life. This is a common occurrence, believe it or not. For example, in 2008, 17 children were abandoned by August but little is known about their well-being. It's possible that they suffered a similar fate. Cases like these really make me consider the idea of stripping the reproductive rights of certain people. I understand the situation that they're in, but they shouldn't have been risking pregnancy in the first place if jail time was undesirable enough to kill your own child. A woman's reproductive rights aren't inconsequential, but it's disheartening to see such disregard for life.
    If you want to argue murder, this is a clear-cut case (pun not intended). For all of the debate over abortion and sentience, this story in particular almost makes it seem like a non-issue. And where is the logic in killing your child to avoid jail time, when murder will give you a larger jail sentence? I don't understand this at all. I shouldn't be trying to make sense out of her mentality, because it's clear to me that some people just aren't fit to be parents.

    I'd like to forcefully flush her head in a toilet full of gasoline, then light her head aflame in my own recreation of the Ghost Rider. But as much as I despise this woman for her actions, I don't support the death penalty or an eye-for-an-eye mentality. I do hope she's imprisoned and left to rot in her own filth, however. Even the worst postpartum depression in the world doesn't turn a mother into this steaming pile of human waste. She's an example of the worst humanity has to offer. Welcome to the carnival of human filth.

    Another Take:
    Despite the deplorable actions of this woman, the laws are so Draconian that it may have forced her hand in the end. I can't claim to know what it's like being put in this situation, and although I don't excuse her actions in killing the child, the real issue here is the restrictive laws which made this scenario possible. Instead of introducing jail time for something as petty as having a child out of wedlock, they should be implementing women's rights, the ability to terminate, and birth control.

    It's no question that if women had proper rights in the UAE, this would likely have never happened. I can sympathize with the woman, since she must have been so desperate that she chose to do the unthinkable. Her mind must have been spinning in circles, making it hard to properly judge the situation. Despite that, I still can't sympathize with her killing a newborn, when other options were clearly available, even if it involved leaving the child alive on the bathroom floor. In fact, fostering an orphaned child in that region is seen as an act of good faith. They view it as bringing the child back from the dead, so the newborn would have been taken care of.

Danielle Cuba: TEXAS

December 28, 2010
BONHAM -- The 6th Appellate District Court of Texas overturned the capital murder conviction handed down to Corey Don Louis in 2009 in 2-year-old Channing "Chase" Terrell Matthew's death in 2008. The court granted Louis' appeal with the requirement that the case be returned to Fannin County District Attorney's Office for consideration of lesser charges.
At the time of the capital murder conviction, Louis also was indicted on a charge of injury to a child with intent to cause serious bodily injury. However, he was not tried on that charge.
The Appellate Court's decision states, "We reverse the conviction of Louis for capital murder and render an acquittal of that offense. We remand this case to the trial court for a trial of the lesser-included offenses."
The court based its decision on three points: The evidence is legally insufficient to support the verdict; is legally insufficient to prove Louis had the requisite mental state necessary to be found guilty of capital murder; and is factually insufficient to support the verdict.
The decision also states that there were two errors made in jury instructions involving inferred intent and mistake of fact. It states that the trial court erred by including the following instruction in the jury charge, "Intent or knowledge may be inferred by acts done or words spoken."
Secondly, the appellate court agreed with Louis that the trial court should have instructed the jury that a "mistake of fact" could be a defense. In this case, the appeals court said, if Louis mistakenly believed that his actions would not kill the child, that would be a "mistake of fact" and therefore a defense.
Fannin County District Attorney Richard Glaser said Monday that his office had just received the opinion, that he actually learned about it on the Internet. He said his office and the State Attorney General's Office will be seeking a re-hearing or appeal on the reversal.
Louis' defense attorney Steven Miears called the reversal a "well thought out and reasoned decision by the Court of Appeals. This was absolutely the right thing to do. Oftentimes the facts of a capital murder case are so horrific that juries are led astray by emotion, and what may sometimes be characterized as over-zealous prosecution."
Louis, who lived in Bonham at the time of the crimes, was convicted in the 336th state District Judge Laurine Blake's court in May 2009. The jury sentenced Louis to serve a life sentence without parole. Chase's mother, Danielle Cuba, pleaded guilty, without a trial, to murder and to injury to a child with intent to cause serious bodily injury. She is serving two concurrent 50-year sentences in Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Cuba's conviction on injury was for the severe beating of Chase's 3-year-old sister. Louis has been indicted, but not tried, on the same charge.
When reached for a comment on the decision, Blake said she cannot comment on cases before her court.
The incident began when the two toddlers woke up in the middle of the night and got into the kitchen. They smeared mustard, dog food and household chemicals over much of the house and themselves.
When Cuba and Louis discovered the mess, they punished the children. What Cuba and Louis called spankings and normal punishment, the appeals court called horrific beatings.
Louis admitted to hitting them with a belt several times, then leaving instructions with Cuba that they stand in the corner until he returned home from work. Cuba admitted to hanging Chase by his arms inside a closet after the other punishment and after Louis left. Chase died later that same day and his sister was treated for critical wounds in a Dallas hospital.
Louis, who is now 41, was Cuba's live-in boyfriend, and at the time there were three other children inside the house, ranging in ages from infancy to 14 years old.
Louis appealed his decision in October with Miears representing him in front of the appellate court which sat in Bonham. On Dec. 15, Appellate Court justices Jack Carter, Josh R. Morriss III and Bailey C. Mosley rendered the decision.
Louis remains in a TDCJ prison. Prison system spokesman Jason Clark said that Louis had been free on parole at the time of Chase's death. Because of the capital murder conviction, the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole revoked his parole in 2009.
"They (TBPP) would need to revisit the revocation and make a decision before he could be released," Clark said. Those two earlier sentences were for aggravated robbery, for which he received a 10-year-sentence in 1996, and delivery of a controlled substance, for which he received a 20-year sentence in 1993. He had been released on parole in April 1999."
"We just received the opinion, and we don't agree with it, and he (Louis) won't be released," Glaser said. "We will ask the Court of Criminal Appeals in Austin to review it (the decision). We support the decision of the jury and we are satisfied that he (Louis) will not be let loose on society." Assistant District Attorney Brad Setterberg will lead the appeal team for the Fannin County D.A.'s Office.
"We've also been offered support, and graciously accepted it, from the state prosecuting attorney in Austin, also supporting the conviction," Glaser added. "Depending on what opinion happens then, thinking further on down the line, if the appeal decision is sustained in any regard, we expect to at least re-try it."

Kenya: Samburu woman's crusade against killing of the disabled

 31/12/2010 By ERICK WAMANJI :

Mantelina Nasieku, 14, knows too well what she wants in life- to be a lawyer. It is a miracle that she is alive to declare her dream.
Being mauled by hyenas, strangulation, suffocation, being snuffed to death by tobacco concoction or being poisoned by desert rose juice are some of the things that might befallen her at birth after she was born partially blind.
Some of the disabled children saved from death play at the Samburu Handicap Education & Rehabilitation Programme (Sherp). [PHOTOS: ERICK WAMAJI/STANDARD]
But suffering doesn’t end with children with disabilities. Women too have to pay the price of bringing forth such children. The men issue orders; the women do the execution. Objections to such decrees are met with frown, ex-communication, or battery.
Rogue woman
Luckily for Mantelina and 500 others, they are alive due to a rescue operation.
Mantelina’s zeal is an embodiment of triumph over cultural oppression.
"She has a big appetite for knowledge," says Grace Seneiya, a woman who defied culture to offer a new lease of life and dignity to the condemned babies. From a ‘rogue woman’ to a celebrated figure in the community, today Seneiya, 37, befuddles even her sharpest critics.
"In Samburu, disability is frowned at. The disabled are viewed as a curse, a burden, a bad omen," explains Seneiya as we take a tour of Samburu Handicap Education and Rehabilitation Programme (Sherp). "With this amount of loathing, such babies are condemned to death," adds as her voice falters.
Commit suicide
Here, the disabled are called ngoki, meaning curse, useless or demonic. That is why, Seneiya explains, there are not so many disabled adults in the area nor will you even see albinos. They are killed soon after birth in one of the most horrific cultural acts.
Indeed, treading through the thorns and thistles of this near-barren world, the scrubland shrinks as if in shame of the infamy of the atrocities it has silently witnessed and concealed. There is an eerie feel of death here.
So you think that this is a practice of a bygone era? You are wrong. "Just recently, we have had cases of abandoned disabled babies," Seneyia says after a long silence.
Death designs are as varied as they are many. Babies are tethered on spiky scrubs, abandoned in the bush or left in the goat pens. It is mothers who perform the killing. Men issue orders.
Women who defy such orders are excommunicated from their matrimonial homes. Some commit suicide because of frustrations, Seneiya reveals.
Locals seem to have been sworn into silence and interestingly even though the administration or law enforcement is aware of the practice, no one seems to want put in force the rule of law.
Turning point
"There was a time some leaders wanted us to be ejected from this ground arguing that disability does not add anything to the growth of the community. No one is taking action against these dehumanising culture," Seneiya mourns.
The turning point came in 2003 when Seneiya’s and five other women in Samburu were engaged in a workshop in Nanyuki by organised by SNV Netherlands Development Organisation.
"We went to Nanyuki and there was a lady called Sabdiyo Dido from SNV who opened our eyes. She empowered us to think critically and to be strategic in resource mobilisation for our cause. It is after that training that I came out like a possessed person. I knew I wanted to help the disabled. That is how I soldiered on," she recalls.
Not deterred
Thankfully, this rescue effort required a brief women empowerment effort to kick-start these changes. In Nanyuki SNV wanted to find solutions on the myriad problems affecting women and children in Samburu, and instantly, Seneiya, herself a special education teacher, knew where to place her cards. It has paid off.
"All these children you see here would either be long dead or living miserably," points out Seneiya.
For instance, Mantelina was born partially blind and was left for the dead in the scrubland. She was rescued and underwent surgery and now she can see.
Maralal is a dusty township with wooden structures fashioned from cedar. Men draped in red shukas sit on one side of the street snuffing tobacco and engaging in small talk. Across the street, women, sitting on the dusty grounds supply the tobacco. The irony is that the much cherished drug is the killer dose here for the disabled.
One old man, Daudi Olekentai, doesn’t think there is anything wrong with killing the disabled. "We the Samburu are always on the move. How do you expect us to carry a disabled adult," he poses, snuffs his tobacco, sneezes and requests if we can buy him more tobacco.
To Seneiya, this is a classic impunity but she is not deterred. She hopes a time will come when the disabled will be accepted in the social circles of the community.
"We’re now moving from rescuing to awareness. At least today, they’d rather dump the baby here than kill it. We want them to appreciate the children and show that they can be productive," Seneiya says.
However, such a bold act was and still is considered a perilous enterprise that fires high emotions, fear and hatred with equal measure.
Premium bride price
Indeed, Seneya endured an avalanche of hatred from friends and relatives alike. She was accused of surrounding herself with curses and as such, they swore, she would never get married.
"The nomadic Samburu lifestyle is intolerant to the weak and disabled. As they move for pasture and water, a disabled is considered an extra baggage. During raids, the disabled are usually left behind. A year ago, in one village there was a raid. Everyone fled except two disabled people who were killed," she recalls.
Girls are supposed to bloom to astounding beauties that could attract premium bride price. Disabled girls never attract suitors. The very textile of this society is cut on bravado and bride wealth. Anything that threatens these key rudiments is frowned at and has to be destroyed. Disability, real or perceived, is such a threat.
"For long I used to mount my motorbike and tour the manyattas to inquire about disabled children. At times I would stumble on one abandoned here and another there. Most of the time you find them tethered on a shrub, feeble and shrunk."
"People used to look at meawestruck. They were convinced I was nuts," she says.

Aset Magomadova second-degree murder aquittal sparked outrage: Canada

Daryl Slade, Calgary Herald December 28, 2010
Aset Magomadova, who strangled her teenage daughter after an altercation in 2007, leaves the courthouse on Tuesday at the end of the first day of her sentencing hearing. Photograph by: Ted Rhodes, Calgary Herald
 Aset Magomadova, who strangled her teenage daughter after an altercation in 2007, leaves the courthouse on Tuesday at the end of the first day of her sentencing hearing.
A Calgary mother convicted of manslaughter in the strangling death of her 14-year-old daughter will face her first defence of a Crown appeal in May.
The case of Aset Magomadova, who was earlier acquitted of second-degree murder in the girl's death, sparked outrage when a judged ruled in July that she would not be jailed. Magomadova, 41, was instead given a suspended sentence and three years probation with conditions to take counselling for grief, depression and anger management.
Alain Hepner, lawyer for Magomadova, said he will argue the judge's rulings should stand.
"We are preparing to address the Crown's appeal on the acquittal of second-degree murder and to uphold the conviction for manslaughter," Hepner said recently. He will also argue the sentence delivered by Justice Sal LoVecchio was appropriate given the circumstances.
Court heard that Magomadova strangled her daughter, Aminat, in 2007 after the teen refused to attend court for assaulting a teacher.
Magomadova claimed Aminat came at her with a knife in the sewing room where the mother prayed several times a day. She reacted by wrapping the scarf around her daughter's neck and twice told the girl to put down the knife before the teen lost consciousness, court heard.
LoVecchio, who had rejected a claim of self-defence in a 2008 ruling, ultimately determined Magomadova did not intend to kill the girl.
"At first blush (a suspended sentence) may sound like a get-out-of-jail-free card. It is not," LoVecchio said when handing down his sentence in July.
Crown prosecutors Mac Vomberg and Sarah Bhola had argued for a 12-year prison term.