U.S. Couple Charged With Killing Adopted 8-Year-Old

Date: 2005-08-08
Source: Moscow Times

A U.S. couple has been charged with killing their adopted 8-year-old Russian son, and prosecutors in Moscow said Friday that they would investigate how the parents adopted the child.

U.S. prosecutors have charged Samuel and Donna Merryman, of Harford County, Maryland, with manslaughter, first-degree child abuse resulting in death and reckless endangerment in the death of their son Dennis, The Baltimore Sun reported Thursday.

The boy, the youngest of seven children the couple was raising and home-schooling, died in January, and an autopsy report said starvation was the cause of death, the newspaper reported.

Samuel Merryman's mother called the charges "totally false" and maintained that Dennis Merryman's death was the result of one of his many ailments, which she said included cystic fibrosis and digestive problems, according to The Baltimore Sun.

George Merryman, Samuel Merryman's father, said Dennis died after playing outside in the snow. "He came in, laid down and never got up," he told the newspaper.

Russian prosecutors said Friday that they would look into the legality of the 2000 adoption of Dennis and his older brother and two older sisters from an orphanage in Perm in 2000, Interfax reported.

Dennis Merryman was the 13th Russian-born child to die in the United States after being adopted by American parents since Russia allowed foreign adoptions in the early 1990s, prosecutors said.

The death came amid a wave of concern in Russia about the fate of Russian-born children adopted by American parents following a series of abuse cases that has prompted a senior State Duma deputy to call for a moratorium on adoptions by U.S. citizens.

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