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Dad, social workers get 2 1/2 to 5 years in Danieal’s death

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Dad, social workers get 2 1/2 to 5 years in Danieal’s death

By Vernon Clark

INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

Bringing an end to trials in the 2006 starvation death of 14-year-old Danieal Kelly, a judge Thursday sentenced the disabled child’s father and two others to prison terms.

“This was a horrific case,” Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey P. Minehart said before ordering 2 1/2- to five-year prison terms for Daniel Kelly, 40; former Department of Human Services social worker Dana Poindexter, 54; and former DHS contractor Mickal Kamuvaka, 62.

Kamuvaka was the head of MultiEthnic Behavioral Health Inc., a DHS contractor that was paid to place a social worker in Kelly’s home twice a week. Poindexter was supposed to have investigated reports of Danieal’s abuse.

Danieal’s emaciated, bedsore-ridden body was found Aug. 4, 2006, in a filthy two-bedroom apartment in West Philadelphia that she shared with her mother and eight siblings. She weighed only 46 pounds. She was born withcerebral palsy and was first brought to DHS’s attention in 2002.

“The individual actions of these defendants all came together in the nightmare” this child experienced, said Minehart, adding that the three acted with “gross indifference.”

The sentencing followed testimony by a string of about 10 character witnesses on behalf of Poindexter and Kamuvaka.

But, said Minehart, “One thing I didn’t hear from Kamuvaka was any remorse.”

On July 15, a jury found the three guilty of all charges, ruling that each played a role that led to the child’s death, although none had seen her in the weeks before she died.

Daniel Kelly was convicted of child endangerment, Poindexter of child endangerment, recklessly endangering another person and perjury, and Kamuvaka of involuntary manslaughter, child endangerment, reckless endangerment, perjury, criminal conspiracy and four charges involving the creation of a falsified case file to mislead investigators.

Kamuvaka is ready serving a 17 1/2 year sentence for health-care fraud in the Kelly case. The state sentence is to be served consecutively, the judge said.

Andrea Kelly, the child’s mother, is serving 20 to 40 years in prison on a 2009 third-degree murder conviction in the case.

“I think the judge gave a just sentence,” said Assistant District Attorney Ed McCann. “I really don’t think that any jail sentence measures up to the callous indifference that the defendants exhibited in this case toward the victim.”

During the hearing, McCann told the court that “this was not a tragedy. This was prolonged, callous indifference.”

Addressing the court, Poindexter testified that Danieal “was a wonderful, warm and dear child . . . What happened to her was monstrous . . . I did make mistakes.”

Daniel Kelly, speaking to the judge, said Danieal’s welfare “was my responsibility. I know that I let her down.”

Said McCann: “She didn’t have a family that cared for her. It was troubling that so many people let her down.”

McCann noted the case spurred greater scrutiny of child protective services in the city. “I think it has led to reforms,” he said.

In all, 16 people have been convicted of charges including case workers and social workers for DHS and staffers from MultiEthnic Behavioral Health Inc.

“This wasn’t just a bad day,” McCann said. “This neglect occurred over a prolonged period of time under the eyes of people who were supposed to be watching what was going on.”

 


Contact staff writer Vernon Clark at 215-854-5717 or vclark@phillynews.com.Follow the Inquirer at www.Twitter.com/PhillyInquirer and www.Facebook.com/PhillyInquirer

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Written by dawneworswick

October 20, 2011 at 11:23 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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