While watching yesterday’s evening news your Charleston personal injury attorney was made aware of an awfully alarming case of alleged child neglect and malnourishment. Last month, February tenth to be more specific, a Summerville Police Detective responded to a panicky 911 call and discovered a lifeless 13-year-old boy wrapped up in a blanket on the kitchen floor. The emergency call was placed from the teen’s parent’s home. The death was ruled a murder by years and months of malnourishment and neglect, according to the Dorchester County Coroner’s Office; the teen’s mother and stepfather were arrested on the charge.
The preliminary hearing was conducted this past Wednesday and revealed some highly unsettling details concerning the boy’s living conditions. The teen’s mother and stepfather were absent from the hearing, but their criminal defense attorneys were present for the proceeding. Providing testimony was the aforementioned Summerville Detective. The Detective fielded questions from the Dorchester County Solicitor for 20 minutes, providing insights from his investigation into the circumstances surrounding the murder case, including health records, an autopsy report, and testimonies from responding EMS workers.
According to Wednesday’s testimony, the teen suffered from a disease called Tuberous Sclerosis causing him to experience more than 30 seizures a day if not properly medicated. From 1998 up until 2006, the boy took Topamax to control the episodes, effectively reducing the frequency to just one per day. In 2006 the teen was taken off the medication as a result of his family’s failure to re-apply for Medicaid. Additionally, it was also noted by the Coroner’s Office that the disabled teen hadn’t seen a physician in the time between 2006 and his untimely passing.
The Coroner’s Office determined the teen’s time of death to be in the morning hours of February tenth, but the 911 call was place just before 5:00 p.m. that evening. In his testimony, the Summerville Detective recalled the teen being stiff and very cold to the touch, with his skin bearing a greenish hue. At the time of the teen’s death he weighed just under 50 pounds; his slight frame spotted with six bed sores, one which on his hip so severe it was described as similar to a “crater” by the Summerville Detective.
Testimonies from the responding EMS workers indicate that the teen’s mother had an understanding for the gravity of the situation, reportedly “saying she was such a bad mother” several times.
These allegations and reports are certainly tragic in and of themselves, but it is truly astonishing to read that in the course of the Summerville Detective’s investigation he met a family friend who said she never heard of the family’s son and stepson. In the Detective’s testimony he stated the friend spent time with the teen’s family in 2009, visiting their home an approximated 40-50 times for various cookouts and gatherings; yet had neither met, nor seen, nor even knew the teen existed. Such claims beg the question, “Where was the boy during these gatherings?”
Relatives of the charged mother have spoken out against the accusations, claiming the teen’s death came as a result of his genetic disorder, and the arrests were made due to investigators’ failure to understand this disorder. Despite these claims the presiding judge in Wednesday’s hearing ruled the murder charges against the teen’s mother and stepfather will stand until a trial date is set. Although, it must be added that the charge against the stepfather is complicated, as his criminal defense attorney argued in hopes of having the case dismissed, he was working in Kansas City from the beginning of the year until after the teen’s alleged wrongful death. According to the Dorchester County Solicitor, the date for another hearing has not yet been set.