New trial date set for foster mom 3 years after baby's death

Relates to:
Date: 1988-05-13

St. Petersburg Times
Author: MARK JOURNEY

CLEARWATER - Since 4-month-old Corey Greer was found dead in his crib three years ago, prosecutors have suggested that his death was caused by a negligent, racist foster worker.

They say that 50-year-old Judith Lundy, charged with manslaughter and third-degree murder in the child's death, did not like black children and got ''the willies'' when she touched them.

But a retired social worker who inspected Mrs. Lundy's home where Corey was placed will testify at an upcoming trial that he saw no evidence of racism, Mrs. Lundy's defense attorney said Thursday.

Stephen Woods, a black social worker with the state Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services (HRS), said he never felt any prejudice when he inspected Mrs. Lundy's home on Treasure Island.

''He was very complimentary,'' Mrs. Lundy's attorney, Ky Koch, said during a hearing in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court. ''He was treated like a gentleman.''

The witness could be crucial to the defense, which will try to refute charges that Mrs. Lundy's racism led to Corey's death July 21, 1985.

Paramedics and police summoned to Mrs. Lundy's home said Corey had been dead for about four hours. An autopsy found the baby died from dehydration and too much sodium in his blood. Excessive sodium in the blood can be caused by too much salt, not enough water or extreme loss of water, prosecutors said.

When Corey died, Mrs. Lundy was caring for 12 foster children in addition to her natural child, although she was licensed to house only four. Assistant State Attorney Mary McKeown says that Corey died after Mrs. Lundy ordered an 8-year-old girl to care for him because she disliked blacks.

The girl fed and bathed the child, but he usually was left alone in a crib in a hot, humid room, Mrs. McKeown said. She said several witnesses and HRS documents will prove that Mrs. Lundy is racist.

When Mrs. Lundy applied for a state license to care for children after moving to Florida from Illinois five years ago, she said on her application that she did not want to care for black children, Mrs. McKeown said. She said that Mrs. Lundy would not have accepted Corey and his 15-month-old sister if she had known they were black.

Mrs. McKeown said testimony also will show that Mrs. Lundy said she got the ''willies'' when she touched black children, that she compared Corey and his sister to apes and referred to the boy as a ''black blob.''

But defense attorney Koch said that Mrs. Lundy never knew about Corey's ailment. He said the child almost died at Bayfront Medical Center two weeks earlier because Corey had too little - not too much - sodium in his blood.

''She was never shown anything about the kid's medical attention,'' Koch said.

He also criticized HRS social workers because they allowed Mrs. Lundy to care for too many children.

''The place was extremely crowded,'' Koch said. ''HRS knew it was crowded. . . . HRS screwed up. They had knowledge of this child's medical condition.''

Mrs. Lundy's trial is scheduled for June 7, though it has been delayed several times during the past three years. If convicted, she faces a maximum of seven years in prison.

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