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Mom accused of manslaughter in toddler’s asphyxiation death wants test of medical equipment

Date: 2015-04-20

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – The involuntary manslaughter trial for the mother accused of gross negligence in the death of her 18-month-old daughter is on hold as tests are conducted of equipment that was supposed to keep the toddler alive.

Rebecca Joy Cotes is accused of failing to employ monitoring equipment when she put the child, Hannah Hoag, in her crib for the night on March 26, 2014. She is charged with involuntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

The toddler died as a result of her trachea tube being dislodged, causing her to asphyxiate, according to Kent County Medical Examiner Stephen Cohle.

Hannah had a tumor in her airway that impeded her ability to breathe, necessitating the tube, according to court records.

Wyoming Police investigators say a monitoring device meant to sound an alarm when the breathing tube was dislodged was not hooked up. Police and Child Protective Services investigated the incident for 10 months before charges were filed.

Capital murder case dismissed against Hannah Overton

Date: 2015-04-19

By Bart Bedsole

The Nueces County District Attorney's office dismissed capital murder charges against Hannah Overton late Wednesday afternoon.

The motion states 'prosecutorial discretion' as the reason for the dismissal.

DA Mark Skurka said his decision to drop the case was the result of a myriad of factors that came about after a careful review of the first trial; that included re-interviewing some of the key witnesses, consulting with some of the medical experts involved in the case, reviewing new evidence at recent hearings.

Overton was convicted in the death of her 4-year-old foster son, Andrew Burd, who she was in the process of adopting. The jury in that trial determined she failed to get immediate medical help for the boy after she fed him a fatal dose of salt.

However, the highest criminal court in Texas granted Hannah Overton a new trial in September of 2014.

The appeals court ruled that Overton received "ineffective counsel" at her trial.

Arizona man gets 14 years in prison for abusing adopted daughters

Date: 2015-04-16

By David Schwartz

PHOENIX (Reuters) - An Arizona man was sentenced on Thursday to 14 years in prison after pleading guilty to child abuse for beating and starving his adopted teen daughters, a court official said.

Johann Glenn Jorg, 62, also was sentenced to lifetime probation by Judge Michael Kemp during a hearing in Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix, said court spokesman Vincent Funari.

Under the deal with county prosecutors, Jorg pleaded guilty to two counts of child abuse and four other counts were dismissed. His attorney declined comment on the sentencing.

Jorg and his wife, Kimery, 54, were arrested last June at their home in the Phoenix suburb of Peoria after state child welfare workers alerted police to possible neglect of the 13-year-old and 11-year-old girls following a visit.

Police investigators found the 13-year-old in such poor shape that she had to be hospitalized, and said the 5-foot-tall (1.52-meter) girl weighed just 60 pounds (27 kg) when she was admitted.

Picatinny Army major and wife back on trial, accused of abusing adopted children

Date: 2015-04-13

By Thomas Zambito

Newark -- The three adopted children were each under the age of three when, federal prosecutors say, U.S. Army Major John Jackson and his wife Carolyn carried out a cruel punishment regimen that went beyond the bounds of parental discipline.

One child was forced to eat an onion as punishment for drinking water from a toilet. Children were force-fed hot sauce or red-hot pepper flakes. And their bones were broken, prosecutors say.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the evidence in this case will show that no matter where you draw that line, the defendants were miles past it," Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Shumofsky told jurors Monday during opening statements in U.S. District Court.

New Jersey federal prosecutors reopened their child endangerment and assault case against the Jacksons Monday, five months after Judge Katharine Hayden declared a mistrial midway through the first trial.

Alleged Abuses by New Jersey Military Couple Listed in Trial

Date: 2015-04-13


An Army major and his wife engaged in "a regimen of abuse and neglect" with their three young foster children over a period of years that left the toddlers with broken bones and numerous other health problems, a federal prosecutor told a jury at the couple's child abuse trial Monday.

John and Carolyn Jackson also forced some of the children to drink hot sauce or eat hot pepper flakes and weren't exposed until one of their biological children reported the abuse to someone outside the family, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Shumofsky said in his opening statement.

That child, now in his teens, is expected to provide key testimony for the prosecution.

The trial marks the second go-round for the Jacksons, whose previous trial last fall ended in a mistrial when a prosecutor inadvertently referred to the fact that one of the children had died. The judge had previously ruled that the boy's death could not be introduced during the trial since the defendants were not charged directly with his death.

Mom accused of having sex with adopted son

Date: 2015-04-11


COEUR d'ALENE - The case of a Rathdrum woman accused of having sex with her 14-year-old adopted son will be tried by a jury in Kootenai County.

Kimberly Durlin, 32, was charged with five counts of lewd conduct with a child under the age of 16 in November of 2014. A jury trial is scheduled to begin April 20.

On Nov. 18, 2014, Durlin was with her son at a therapy session in Hayden when the boy allegedly told his therapist that he and his mother were having sex. The therapist then notified her supervisor of the allegations and, according to court records, the supervisor said the boy should go home with Durlin while the office notified Idaho Health and Welfare.

However, shortly after leaving, the teen returned to the office and said he did not want to go home. The therapist later told a Rathdrum Police Department officer that the boy said he got into the car, and Durlin angrily said "You told them, didn't you?"

After discussing options with the therapist and a Child Protective Services employee, the officer wrote that they decided to place the boy in protective custody.

Deportation hearing begins for adopted man whose parents didn't seek his citizenship

Date: 2015-04-02

By Bryan Denson

Korean-born Adam Crapser spent Thursday morning, his 40th birthday, in a U.S. immigration courtroom in Portland, where the government began what is expected to be a long and complicated fight to deport him from the only country he knows.

Crapser, a Vancouver resident, told reporters after a brief court appearance that he remembers the eruption of Mount St. Helens but not the orphanage from where he was adopted.

"I'm not garbage," he told reporters outside the Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building. "I don't think human beings are disposable."

Immigration Judge Michael H. Bennett, a balding man with a beatific smile, heard a series of routine cases Thursday - foreign-born residents facing deportation - but there is almost nothing routine about Crapser's story.

He was three years old when he and his sister were adopted from South Korea then split up. Crapser's adoptive parents were abusive and never filed papers that would make him a U.S. citizen.

Adam Crapser’s Bizarre Deportation Odyssey

Date: 2015-04-01

This past February, U.S. officers knocked on an apartment door in Vancouver, Wash., looking for a man named Adam Crapser. A 39-year-old former barbershop owner and auto-insurance claims estimator, Crapser was now the married stay-at-home father of three children, with another baby on the way. He lived a mostly quiet life, playing the guitar and ukulele, looking after a rescue dog and taking his children to the park and the science museum. But the ICE agents at the door were there to inform him that the agency was opening deportation proceedings that could send him to South Korea.

Crapser was born Shin Song Hyuk, to a mother described in his adoption papers as “Amerasian.” When Crapser was 3, he and his older sister were abandoned and ended up at an orphanage three hours outside of Seoul. A worker there noted that Crapser cried often, played alone and wanted his sister in his sight at all times. After five months, he was on his way to a new home in the United States, along with his sister and a handful of possessions: a pair of green rubber shoes, a Korean-language Bible and a worn stuffed dog.

Former workers at Justin Harris' preschool say they were told to sign in adopted girls despite absence

Date: 2015-03-30

By Benjamin Hardy

According to five former workers at Growing God's Kingdom, the West Fork preschool operated by Rep. Justin Harris and his wife, Marsha Harris, the couple's two young adopted daughters were often signed in at the school on days when they were not actually in attendance.

The workers contacted the Times independently of one another after reading our initial March 5 story that revealed the two girls — we've started identifying them by the pseudonyms "Mary" and "Annie" — were sent by the Harrises to live with another family only about seven months after their adoption was finalized. They were ages 5 and 3 at the time they were "rehomed" in late 2013. Mary, the 5-year-old, was then sexually abused by the father at the new home, Eric C. Francis, before the sisters were moved to a third family in early 2014.

Judge blames couple for Erica Parsons' death

Date: 2015-03-27

Casey and Sandy Parsons were sentenced to federal prison Friday for financial schemes that included cashing monthly assistance checks of $634 for Erica Parsons more than a year after the girl disappeared.

Erica’s adoptive father, Sandy Parsons, was sentenced to 8 years. Her adoptive mother, Casey Parsons, was sentenced to 10 years.

They were sentenced in Winston-Salem by U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder, who said he gave the couple stiffer sentences after testimony last month described the couple’s cruel treatment of Erica, who was an infant when she came to the Parsons household in Rowan County and 13 years old when she vanished in 2011.

“I have sentenced close to 1,000 people,” Schroeder said during the 2 ½ -hour hearing. “I can’t think of a case that has troubled me more.”

The couple did not speak in court. They were ordered into custody immediately, even though their attorneys had asked that they be allowed to report to prison on their own. The judge said he could not be sure they wouldn’t pose a threat to other people, based on what they did to Erica.

Roberta and Joseph Shane Charged In Connection With Mental Child Abuse Case

Date: 2015-03-24

By Kevin Koile

A former Casper High School librarian and her husband are both accused of mistreating one of their adopted children.

Roberta Shane has been charged with one count of child abuse by mental injury, while Joseph Shane has been charged with one count of aiding or abetting child abuse.

On Tuesday March 24th, a Circuit Court Judge ruled that prosecutors had met their probable cause burden and bound them over to district court.

Through interviews with a school social worker, investigators with the Casper Police Department say from May 2012 through April 2014, the now 11-year old victim had been punished in inappropriate ways.

They included sleeping on a cot smaller than her in a laundry room, only being allowed to wear certain types of clothes when in trouble, and being locked in the garage when the rest of the family leaves the house.

The victim added that when in the garage, she would given a roll of toilet paper and if she needed to use the bathroom, she would have to go use a tree in the backyard, since the door from the garage to the house was locked.

Mother Convicted of Battery On Her Adopted Child

Date: 2015-03-23

By Melissa Schroeder

LONOKE COUNTY, AR -- A Lonoke County foster parent, who adopted three children with her husband, is serving prison time for beating one of the kids with a vacuum cleaner attachment.

The children's biological aunt, Amber Butera, said, "I cannot bear falling to sleep because I know those kids could be...that they could be hurting."

Last month, a judge sentenced Jacqueline Ferguson to six years in prison for domestic battery in the second degree. Another foster child -- in the home at the time -- brought the abuse to the attention of the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

Kayla McPherson, the children's biological mother, said, "It hurts really bad to know I wasn't able to save them from that."

The state terminated her parental rights a couple years ago.

McPherson said, "We want them to know we love them very much and we are fighting for them."

While the kids were in foster care, McPherson says she told her caseworker about bumps and bruises found on her children. She says there were even photos taken months before the adoption went through...but she says nothing was done.

Fairfield County couple sentenced for keeping daughter in shed

Date: 2015-03-18

By Mary Beth Lane

LANCASTER, Ohio — A Fairfield County couple accused of child abuse last year for locking their 15-year-old adopted daughter out of the house and making her sleep in a backyard shed have been sentenced to probation.

Fairfield County Municipal Court acting Judge James Fais sentenced Douglas and Kim Sherman to 180 days in jail each, which was suspended for two years on probation.

They also agreed to give up their parental rights and permanently release the girl to the custody of Child Protective Services, and not to have any contact with her.

They were sentenced on Friday after they took a negotiated plea agreement and pleaded no contest to endangering children, a first-degree misdemeanor, court records show.

Mr. Sherman, 64, and Mrs. Sherman, 61, of 10200 Lithopolis Rd. in Bloom Township, initially were charged with child endangering as a felony, but prosecutors said there was no evidence that the girl had been seriously physically harmed.

Huron County couple charged with abuse after son found in caged bed

Date: 2015-03-18

By: Rebecca Trylch

HURON COUNTY (WJRT) - (03/17/15) - A Huron County couple will spend nearly a year in jail after a judge hands down a sentence in an abuse case involving a caged bed.

The judge sentenced Timothy and Karen "Sue" Tolin to 330 days in jail, with credit for two days served.

They also face 24 months on probation, and have to pay a fine.

The judge also told the 66 year olds that they cannot have contact with their 19-year-old adopted son, who is at the center of this abuse case.

The Tolins were charged last October after their son was found in what prosecutors call a "caged bed". The Tolins' attorneys say it was their son's crib.

"Anybody who would look at this device would see that it is one where bars, it's got a wood floor to it, not mattress, it's a cage," said Timothy Rutkowski, the Huron County prosecutor.

The prosecution claims the son was kept in the caged bed for between 18 and 23.5 hours a day.

The defense said that only happened on rare occasions, adding he regularly attended school.

Couple accused of caging autistic son get 11 months

Date: 2015-03-18

BAD AXE – A couple accused of keeping their 19-year-old adopted son in a cage at their home in rural Michigan have been sentenced to 11 months behind bars.

WNEM-TV reports Karen and Timothy Tolin also were ordered Tuesday to serve two years of probation.

They earlier pleaded no contest to unlawful imprisonment in a Huron County court. In exchange, prosecutors dropped a charge of vulnerable adult abuse against each of them. A no contest plea isn’t an admission of guilt but is treated as such for sentencing.

A deputy answering an Oct. 20 civil dispute call found the 19-year-old in a bedroom at the home in Paris Township, about 90 miles north of Detroit. Authorities also removed three adults and two children from the home, which wasn’t a licensed care facility.

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