Friday, May 1, 2009

Philadelphia mother receives 20-40 year prison sentence for death of daughter with CP

From The Philadelphia Daily News:

In a soft, almost inaudible voice, the mother of Danieal Kelly (pictured) - the 14-year-old girl who died of starvation and neglect in her mother's Parkside home in 2006 - accepted her role in her daughter's death April 29, saying, "I wish I could have done more than what I did."

Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lerner then sentenced Andrea Kelly, 39, to 20 to 40 years in state prison - a term negotiated by the prosecution and the defense - after she pleaded guilty, as expected, to charges of third-degree murder and endangering the welfare of a child.

The death of Danieal - who suffered from cerebral palsy and was found dead with maggot-infested bedsores, as flies buzzed about her feces-covered bed - highlighted troubled aspects of the city's Department of Human Services.

DHS and a private agency it contracted, MultiEthnic Behavioral Health, were supposed to have been checking on Danieal's well-being.

Ed McCann, chief of the District Attorney's Homicide Unit, recited in court a summary of the testimony at Kelly's preliminary hearing last fall. He described how Danieal's body was found in her mother's home on Memorial Avenue near Viola Street on Aug. 4, 2006, an extremely hot day.

A forensics technician-supervisor at the city's Medical Examiner's Office had testified how she "saw maggots eating away at a [bed]sore on the child's collarbone," McCann said.

Edwin Lieberman, an assistant medical examiner, testified that Danieal weighed 42 pounds and was extremely dehydrated and malnourished, and that the most serious of her sores gnawed all the way to her bone, McCann said.

As part of the plea agreement, the prosecution decided not to pursue a first-degree murder charge against Kelly.

Richard Q. Hark, Kelly's attorney, told reporters afterward that his client "was relieved to accept responsibility for her role in this case."

But, he also blamed DHS. "Had one DHS worker done their job on one occasion, the child would be alive, and that's why the more significant part of the case goes on," he said.

Kelly was among nine people charged in the case following a scathing grand-jury report by the D.A.'s Office. Two now-fired DHS caseworkers are charged with endangering the welfare of a child and related offenses. A social worker and one of the founders of MultiEthnic, which has since closed, face involuntary manslaughter and related offenses.

Danieal's father, Daniel Kelly, 37, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child. He was not living with his daughter at the time of her death.

Those five adults still face trial.

McCann and Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Selber said April 29 that two adults charged with lying to the grand jury - Marie Moses, 35, and Diamond Brantley, 22, who were friends of Andrea Kelly - are expected to plead guilty to perjury early next month.

A ninth defendant, Andrea Miles, 19, who was a juvenile at the time of her offense and who was also a friend of Andrea Kelly, has already admitted to perjury in Family Court and was sentenced to probation.