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Death adds to family trauma


Death adds to family trauma

Nov 25, 2004

Mike Martinez

Oakland Tribune

RICHMOND -- A family coping with a terminally ill matriarch who has lost her medical insurance and can't pay her rent while her son prepares to ship off to war is now facing another tragedy.

They can't afford to bury the 18-month-old boy she was in the process of adopting. Police say the child, Charles McEntire III, was repeatedly stabbed and killed by her husband for unknown reasons.

Richmond police Sgt. Mark Gagen said because of stress, families sometimes spank or shake their child too much, but "stabbing the child is so aggressive" it's almost unheard of.

"I've heard nothing about (the husband's) ... history or a red flag in his past that would make you think this was going to happen," Gagen said.

Jamil Posey said he was sitting at the computer Monday morning with the 18-month-old boy, called CJ, playing a SpongeBob SquarePants game while his mother, Edrina Gibson, was chatting on the telephone.

Posey said the toddler then wandered away for a short time before the Richmond Police Department began knocking on the door of the family's upstairs duplex home.

Posey said officers told him someone had called from their address in the 500 block of South 30th Street, saying they had killed their baby. At first, Posey said, he told them they had the wrong house.

"I went inside the room, and CJ is face down under a pillow," Posey said. "The whole bed was covered in blood. They wouldn't let us pick him up. (Gibson) picked him up for a second, but put him back down. He was dead when she picked him up. He was limp."

Charles Thomas McEntire, 57, Gibson's husband, repeatedly stabbed the child, police and family members allege.

McEntire was charged Wednesday with one homicide count by the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office. He's being held at the Contra Costa County Detention Facility in Martinez on $1 million bail.

Family members believe stress in the household may have contributed to the child's death.

In August, Gibson was diagnosed with lymphoma and given six months to live. McEntire retired in June and subsequently lost his Kaiser health insurance, because he misunderstood the payment plan, Gibson said. Kaiser canceled his medical benefits that had paid for Gibson's chemotherapy sessions. Added to all this, the Marine unit Posey serves with is deploying to Iraq soon.

"We've got all these holidays coming up," Gibson said. "If anybody's stressed out, it's me. If (McEntire's) stressed out, go get some counseling."

Gibson said she started feeling ill and losing weight in February. In April she was diagnosed with the first stages of a disease that leads to lymphoma.

But before the month was up, she received a call from a foster care program telling her there was a baby that needed a home. She brought the baby home after he spent a few weeks in the hospital.

After beginning the process to adopt the child, Gibson said she married McEntire because she wanted the baby to have a good home.

In early August, Gibson was given six months to live by doctors. On Wednesday, she said, she received a letter saying she no longer has the medical insurance that has been paying for the medication helping her stay alive.

"I only have five pills left," said Gibson, who takes the chemo pills daily. "I'm afraid to take one because then I'll only have four."

Pfc. Posey, a Marine whose unit is heading to Iraq soon, has been home on emergency leave since his mother was diagnosed with cancer. He informed his military supervisors of the young boy's death but was told he has 30 days to report to Camp Pendleton near San Diego.

Because of the situation at home, Posey, who has been in the service for seven months, hopes to get an honorable discharge from the military as soon as possible to care for his mother.

The Richmond Police Department has established a fund to help the family defray the costs of the toddler's burial and Gibson's medical expenses. The public is encouraged to make donations at any Washington Mutual Bank to The McEntire Memorial Fund, account No. 1001934719.

To contact the administrator of the fund, call police Sgt. Mitch Peixoto at 620-6614.

2004 Nov 25