Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Absent Parental Care

"There are just too many deep-rooted issues in this horrific crime. It's extremely troubling from so many different angles and there are no law enforcement answers to prevent it."
"[This is] one of the most heartbreaking investigations [of my career]."
Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper

"I believe the 8 year-old is going to require some intense counseling for the next several years."
"[Manslaughter charges for Lewis are meant to] send[ing] a message that this type of behaviour, this type of irresponsibility on behalf (sic...on the part] of a parent is totally unacceptable. . . Her actions that night, choosing the club over taking care of her one-year-old, are going to stick with her the rest of her life."                                                                                                                      Birmingham Police Department spokesperson Lt. Sean Edwards 
"[There] are going to be very serious questions about whether an eight-year-old has the rational capacity for the proceedings against him. They're gonna [sic] take a real look at whether maybe this is more a matter of parental culpability than child culpability."
Tobie Smith, co-director, Southern Juvenile Detention Centre
Katerra Lewis.jpgKaterra Lewis is charged with manslaughter in the October 2015 death of her toddler girl. Police say she was at nightclub when 1-year-old Kelci Lewis was fatally beaten by an 8-year-old family friend.

Katerra Lewis, 26, charged with manslaughter, released on a $15,000 bond has a head-start on her lifetime of suffering the agony of knowing that her neglect of her seventeen-month-old little girl Kelci led to the child's dreadful death. Her attendance at a memorial held late last month at a Birmingham park was a sobering affair, likely bringing harshly home to her yet again that her child is dead, and partly through her neglect of the little girl's care and security, her cardinal failure as her child's mother.

Giving adequate thought and care to her little girl's welfare appears to have fled from her mind at the prospect of a night out in the company of a friend. Katerra and Kelci Lewis were staying over at the home of a friend on October 11. Arrangements were made for the two women to go out to a night club. They returned in the early morning hours, and evidently retired, exhausted, making no effort to check on the children they had left behind, unsupervised by any adult presence.

There were six children in the house altogether. Five children of the woman whose house it was, and they were aged two, four, six and seven and their older brother of eight. And, of course, the sixth, 17-month-old Kelci. It was the oldest child who was in charge. An eight-year-old in charge of the welfare of his four siblings, and that of a guest, an even younger child than his own youngest sibling. What amazing trust -- or wilful neglect -- to imagine that an eight-year-old has the capacity to care for a two-year-old.

Let alone two in that category, another of four, of six and of seven. Children are notorious for getting into trouble, spurred by their insatiable curiosity. Tell a child to behave and it's like waving a red flag enticing that child to mischief. Can they even tell mischief from good behaviour at age four? And if the oldest child among the six in that house witnessed his mother's form of administering punishment for ill behaviour, and that punishment was physical, he would have been patterned to repeat that type of disciplining penalty.

It is that eight-year-old boy who has been charged with beating Kelci to death. He was, evidently, disciplining her for crying. And as the six-year-old child later explained to investigators what had happened cause-and-effect were understood. What happened was that the older brother beat the baby, and then placed her back in her crib. Her condition was not discovered until 10:45 the following morning when she was rushed to children's hospital to be declared dead.

Blunt force trauma administered by an eight year-old in the punishment of a seventeen-month-old can be devastating. And it was; little Kelci died of her head wounds along with the effect of internal injuries. Without a doubt, when she was beaten for crying, that beating only served to intensify her loud cries, further infuriating the eight-year-old determined to silence her. And silence her he did.

The state child welfare agency has taken custody of the eight-year-old. In Alabama there is no minimum age for prosecution. It is expected that the boy's case will move through the family court.

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