Land Of Choosing Who Is Above The Law

.jpg photo of child abuse graphic
How Can CPS Be Above The Law

DA Wants Re-Hearing for Social Workers
in Child Abuse Death of
Gabriel Fernandez

Revised with previously filtered content

LOS ANGELES COUNTY, CA  –  Los Angeles County prosecutors are asking a state appellate court panel to reconsider its ruling that directed a lower court to dismiss charges against four social workers who were accused of failing to protect an 8-year-old Antelope Valley boy who was killed in May 2013.

.jpg photo of child beat to death in california in 2013
Gabriel Fernandez, 8-years-old.

“An autopsy showed that the boy had a fractured skull, several broken ribs and burns over much of his body. His teacher testified that she called Rodriguez multiple times to report that Gabriel told her that his mother punched him and shot him in the face with a BB gun.”

Prosecutors petitioned the three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal to either re-hear or modify its opinion in the case of social workers Stefanie Rodriguez, 34, and Patricia Clement, 69, and two supervisors, Kevin Bom, 40, and Gregory Merritt, 64.  The four were charged in March 2016 with one felony count each of child abuse and falsifying public records in connection with Gabriel Fernandez’s death.

Isauro Aguirre — the boyfriend of the child’s mother — was sentenced to death in June 2018 after being convicted of first-degree murder.  Jurors found true the special circumstance allegation of murder involving the infliction of torture.

LYING IS PART OF WHAT NEEDS TOTAL REALIGNMENT

The boy’s mother, Pearl Sinthia Fernandez, was sentenced to life in prison without parole after pleading to first-degree murder and admitting the torture allegation.

FOUR SOCIAL WORKERS CHARGED

In September 2018, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge George G. Lomeli denied a motion to dismiss the charges against the social workers, calling the young boy’s death “foreseeable.”

LA JUDGE WALKING TALL AGAINST 4 CPS EMPLOYEES

In a Jan. 6 ruling, the appellate court panel found that there was no probable cause to hold the two social workers and their supervisors on the charges and ruled that the trial court should have granted the defense’s motion to dismiss the case against them.

Associate Justice Victoria Gerrard Chaney concurred that the four could not be charged with child abuse, but wrote a dissenting opinion arguing that they could be prosecuted as public officers under the relevant government code section.

PROSECUTOR SAYS CPS COVERING UP OWN MISBEHAVIOR

“Allowing a social worker to evade liability for falsifying a public document would incentivize social workers to put their own interests in avoiding liability for their misdeeds above the purpose of the state’s child welfare statutory scheme, which is child safety,” Chaney wrote.

“The petitioners’ actions here prevented the system from working in whatever way it might have had they done their jobs honestly, and offers no incentive for either DCFS or individual social workers to work to reform and repair the parts of the system that may fail the children it is intended to protect,” she added. “We have, in effect, encouraged DCFS and its social workers to cover their tracks if they stumble on the cracks in the system.”

JUSTICE FOR GABRIEL, CPS NEXT

In their petition for reconsideration of the decision on the social workers’ case, prosecutors wrote, “If facts known to petitioners suggested Gabriel’s caretakers would harm him, petitioners had a duty to control Pearl and Isauro, to protect Gabriel and to prevent Pearl and Isauro from murdering him. If petitioners weren’t supposed to protect Gabriel from his killers, who was? …. It was their duty to supervise and control Pearl and Isauro’s conduct when it came to how Pearl and Isauro treated Gabriel.”

An autopsy showed that the boy had a fractured skull, several broken ribs and burns over much of his body. His teacher testified that she called Rodriguez multiple times to report that Gabriel told her that his mother punched him and shot him in the face with a BB gun.

Defense attorneys argued that the abuse and torture escalated months after a file on the boy had been closed and that there was insufficient evidence to take him away from his mother.

A Feb. 18 pretrial hearing is scheduled in the case, which was effectively put on hold during the appellate court proceedings.

Land Of Choosing Who Is Above The Law

.jpg photo of child abuse graphic
How Can CPS Be Above The Law

DA Wants Re-Hearing for Social Workers
in Child Abuse Death of
Gabriel Fernandez

LOS ANGELES COUNTY, CA  –  Los Angeles County prosecutors are asking a state appellate court panel to reconsider its ruling that directed a lower court to dismiss charges against four social workers who were accused of failing to protect an 8-year-old Antelope Valley boy who was killed in May 2013.

.jpg photo of child beat to death in california in 2013
Gabriel Fernandez, 8-years-old.

“An autopsy showed that the boy had a fractured skull, several broken ribs and burns over much of his body. His teacher testified that she called Rodriguez multiple times to report that Gabriel told her that his mother punched him and shot him in the face with a BB gun.”

Prosecutors petitioned the three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal to either re-hear or modify its opinion in the case of social workers Stefanie Rodriguez, 34, and Patricia Clement, 69, and two supervisors, Kevin Bom, 40, and Gregory Merritt, 64.  The four were charged in March 2016 with one felony count each of child abuse and falsifying public records in connection with Gabriel Fernandez’s death.

Isauro Aguirre — the boyfriend of the child’s mother — was sentenced to death in June 2018 after being convicted of first-degree murder.  Jurors found true the special circumstance allegation of murder involving the infliction of torture.

LYING IS PART OF WHAT NEEDS TOTAL REALIGNMENT

FOUR SOCIAL WORKERS CHARGED

LA JUDGE WALKING TALL AGAINST 4 CPS EMPLOYEES

PROSECUTOR SAYS CPS COVERING UP OWN MISBEHAVIOR

JUSTICE FOR GABRIEL, CPS NEXT

FL Law Maker Likes TX Law Makers Decision

.jpg photo of Florida law maker concerned about misdiagnosis by medical professionals
Representative Anna Eskamani (D) of Orlando, Florida.

Florida parents wrongly accused of Child
Abuse by state experts is ‘shocking,’ says
lawmaker

TAMPA, FL  –  A Florida lawmaker believes the state’s medical experts on child abuse need more checks and balances after an I-team investigation revealed several pediatricians have made questionable calls against parents who appeared to have done everything right.

“Any position of authority that isn’t checked by something is concerning,” said Florida Democratic Representative Anna Eskamani of Orlando.  Eskamani was responding to our investigation that found several cases where child abuse pediatricians, who were hired to be the state’s experts on abuse, wrongly accused Florida parents of child abuse.

Child abuse pediatricians are a recent specialty medical field and hold enormous influence over whether a child’s medical condition is the result of abuse.  Their conclusions can also determine if a child needs to be removed from their parents. But court records show, these doctors don’t always make the right call causing children, often babies, to be removed from their parents for months unnecessarily.

Our investigation also found cases where doctors appeared to have come to far reaching conclusions without thorough investigations and, in other cases, where parents were arrested after a doctor’s conclusion of abuse.  In 2015, it happened to Jeremy Graham.

Graham, a firefighter and paramedic on Florida’s west coast, was arrested and charged with aggravated child abuse after a child abuse pediatrician determined his 4-month-old son’s seizure was caused by a brain bleed, the result of physical abuse, according to court records provided to us by Jeremy and his wife Vivianna.

About a month leading up to the seizure, the Grahams had visited several doctors because their son was vomiting and “wasn’t acting right,” said Vivianna.

After an 8-month fight, the state dropped its case against the Grahams over “insufficient evidence.”

Last year, Nydia Ortiz’s son and daughter-in-law were torn about from their newborn daughter after a child abuse pediatrician in Miami concluded their newborn daughter’s bruises were also the result of abuse.  Turns out, it was a rare genetic disorder.

It’s a problem impacting families around the country.

In Texas, recent media scrutiny has led some state lawmakers to consider introducing a bill next year that would require an independent second medical opinion in some cases before a child is separated from their parents.

“That system would provide the oversight and accountability that parents deserve in facing the potential of a false accusation of abuse,” said Eskamani.

Representative Eskamani believes the additional measure could make sense in Florida.  We found child abuse pediatricians who serve as medical directors of child protective teams in Florida often answer to no one and operate independently from region to region.

THE FLORIDA INVESTIGATIVE TEAM

Last summer, Vadim Kushnir and his wife found themselves on the defense after seeking help for their newborn son, who was having seizures.  A state child abuse pediatrician determined their newborn’s seizures were “the result of shaken baby or blunt force trauma,” according to court records.

“It took them two minutes of investigation to say we were abusers,” said Kushnir.

The Kushnirs fought back spending $30,000 on attorneys and experts who argued the baby’s condition resulted from a complicated birth not abuse.

The judge agreed and in the final order, even criticized the state’s doctors for not knowing their month old son wasn’t breathing at birth, the umbilical cord wrapped tightly around his neck.  One doctor who provided testimony admitted he “never reviewed all his medical records,” according to court records.

With the legislative session starting this week, Eskamani says it may be too late to file legislation here this session, but she vows to bring up the issue in Tallahassee and invites other families to share their stories with her of being torn apart and wrongly accused.

Contact Representative Eskamani

“The doctor was probably in the room with us less than 10 minutes,” said Vivianna Graham.  “It’s just sad,” added her husband Jeremy whose son, Tristan, is now a healthy 4-year-old.

The Florida Department of Health oversees child abuse pediatricians who serve as experts for the state.  According to an agency spokesperson, their top priority is the health and safety of children but says child protective teams are open to receiving input from others who are also involved in protecting the health and safety of Florida’s children.

No More Pancho Villa, Robin Hood, Zorro, Only Violence Remains

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Josue Fuentes-Ponce, 17, of Bladensburg, MD.

17-year-old gets 50 years for MS-13 gang
murder of 14-year-old MD girl

UPPER MARLBORO, MD  –  A 17-year-old MS-13 gang member was sentenced Monday in the beating death of a 14-year-old girl in Riverdale last April.

Josue Fuentes-Ponce of Bladensburg was one of four gang members charged in the murder of Ariana Funes-Diaz of Adelphi.

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Ariana Funes-Diaz, 14, of Adelphi, MD.

He entered a guilty plea in October to first degree murder.  He was sentenced to life in prison with all but 50 years suspended.

Prosecutors said that the gang members drove together to an apartment complex in the 6300 block of 64th Avenue in Riverdale on April 18, 2019.

The group then lured Funes-Diaz into a wooded area behind the complex where she was killed.  Police found her body in a creek on May 15, 2019.

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Joel Escobar, 18, entered a guilty plea in November and is scheduled for sentencing on February 26.

She was killed because the others thought that she was going to report them for a crime they committed together in D.C., police said.

Co-defendant, Joel Escobar, 18, entered a guilty plea in November and is scheduled for sentencing on February 26.

A trial is scheduled in April for co-defendant, Edwin Rios, 19.

The charges against a 14-year-old girl were handled in juvenile court.

CO Man Pleads Guilty To Child Abuse

.jpg photo of colorado man whose son was found encased in concrete
Leland Pankey, 40, pleaded guilty to child abuse resulting in death and tampering with a deceased human body.

Father of Denver boy found encased in
concrete pleads guilty to Child Abuse;
murder charge dropped

DENVER, CO  –  The father of a 7-year-old Denver boy found encased in concrete in 2018 has pleaded guilty to a child abuse charge in the case, in exchange for prosecutors dropping the murder charge against him.

Leland Pankey, 40, was charged with murder in Caden McWilliams’ death in May.  In a hearing on Thursday, he pleaded guilty to child abuse resulting in death and tampering with a deceased human body.

The murder charge was dropped in the deal.  Pankey now faces up to 72 years in prison.

“This agreement provides justice for Caden while ensuring that Mr. Pankey will serve a significant amount of time behind bars,” Denver District Attorney Beth McCann said in a news release Thursday.  “This is one of the most horrific cases ever handled by the Denver DA’s Office and we were acutely concerned about re-traumatizing Caden’s family as well as the jury, judge and everyone else involved should this case proceed to trial.”

Pankey is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 28.

The body of McWilliams was found encased in concrete in a storage unit in the 5000 block of East Evans Avenue in Denver on Dec. 23, 2018.

McWilliams’ mother, Elisha Pankey, also pleaded guilty in August to one count of child abuse resulting in death.

The Denver Office of the Medical Examiner ruled in a report in March that Caden had been malnourished and had cocaine metabolite and methamphetamine in his system.  The boy also had numerous injuries to his head, torso and extremities, according to the autopsy.  He may have suffered from asphyxia, dehydration or hyperthermia, but that couldn’t be confirmed, the autopsy said.

In an interview with police in March, Elisha Pankey told investigators that Leland Pankey abused Caden while they were living in an extended-stay hotel, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.  The couple and their two children had moved into the hotel in May 2018, and Leland Pankey watched the children while Elisha Pankey went to work, she told investigators.

Elisha Pankey said Caden died in July 2018 after his father kept him in a dog kennel, the affidavit said.  A woman who had been in the Arapahoe County Jail with Elisha Pankey in December said Pankey told her that she believed her son suffocated in the dog kennel.

Leland Pankey kept Caden in the kennel overnight – with blankets on top of it – and the boy cried out that he was hot and thirsty, Elisha Pankey told her fellow inmate, according to the affidavit.

On the day Caden died, his mother and father bought Quikrete, trash bags and water, drove Caden’s body to the storage unit on Evans Avenue, and mixed the concrete and poured it into the kennel, the affidavit said.

The boy’s body wasn’t discovered until December, when officers responded to a domestic violence call involving the Pankeys.

Police learned that the couple had two children, and Elisha Pankey told officers that the children were with their father.  When police contacted Leland Pankey, he said one child was in daycare, but he avoided answering questions about Caden, eventually telling officers the boy was with his mother, the affidavit said.

When officers interviewed a woman whose name was redacted in the affidavit, she told police that Leland Pankey had lost his son and that Pankey said her family could have their storage “because it had too many memories,” the affidavit said.

Investigators obtained a search warrant for the Pankeys’ storage unit and found Caden’s remains inside.