Tuesday, May 21, 2013
State prosecutors have formally charged a 10-year-old girl from Fairfield with manslaughter in the death of a 3-month-old girl this summer.
An undated photo provided by Nicole Greenaway shows her 3-month-old daughter, Brooklyn Foss-Greenaway, of Clinton, Maine, who died while in a babysitter's care on July 8, 2012.
A juvenile petition filed Wednesday in Skowhegan District Court charges Kelli Murphy with the juvenile offense of reckless or criminally negligent manslaughter.
The petition made public the 10-year-old's name, which authorities had not released previously. The names of juvenile criminal suspects are typically kept confidential unless they are charged with the equivalent of a felony, said Deputy Attorney General William Stokes.
The petition includes no details about the case, including what authorities believe happened from late July 7, when the baby was dropped off to spend the night at Murphy's mother's house, through the next morning, when the baby died.
Prosecutors are not alleging that Murphy intended to kill Brooklyn Foss-Greenaway of Clinton. That typically would result in a murder charge, Stokes said.
Murphy, the youngest person that prosecutors can remember being charged with such a serious crime, is in the custody of the state Department of Health and Human Services.
The state is not moving to try her as an adult, so she will not have a jury trial. A judge who deals with juveniles will make a determination, if the case goes to trial, Stokes said.
"The whole focus of the juvenile justice system and juvenile code is to provide treatment and care and be able to deal with the conduct recognizing the juvenile is a child," Stokes said. "The system is designed not to look at the punitive side of things."
The girl's initial court appearance, which may be open to the public, is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Oct. 22.
Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea, who filed the petition, said it's typical for juvenile court appearances that involve murder or manslaughter to be open to the public. But Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, said the judge could decide to hold the proceedings privately.
Zainea said sentencing guidelines for juveniles are different from those for adults. For adults, a felony such as manslaughter is punishable by as much as 30 years in prison and $50,000 in fines. For juveniles, sentencing can include commitments to the Department of Corrections Juvenile Division or the DHHS, or suspended sentences.
The state is still not releasing the cause of the baby's death. The baby's mother, Nicole Greenaway of Clinton, has said she was told that the baby suffocated and that her face was covered with bruises.
Greenaway had not heard about the formal charge until contacted by a reporter Wednesday afternoon. She said she didn't know what to think about the legal development.
She holds Murphy's mother, Amanda Huard, responsible and would like to see charges brought against her, she said.
Greenaway left Brooklyn and her 2-year-old in Huard's care on July 7, and Huard left her daughter in charge of the baby even though she knew that the 10-year-old was not to be left alone with young children, Greenaway said.
The girl had been identified as a danger to children, according to documents from the DHHS.
The documents, which were addressed to Huard and shared with Greenaway, said Huard had been told not to leave Murphy with young children. The caseworker for the department's Office of Child and Family Services held Huard responsible for the baby's death.
Stokes has said that Huard was not charged after the assessment by the DHHS because prosecutors have a higher burden of proof in a criminal case than a caseworker does.
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