Unbiased Reporting

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Isabella Brooke Knightly and Austin Gamez-Knightly

Isabella Brooke Knightly and Austin Gamez-Knightly
In Memory of my Loving Husband, William F. Knightly Jr. Murdered by ILLEGAL Palliative Care at a Nashua, NH Hospital

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Mother sues over foster home death

Mother sues over foster home death
By: Tamara Lindstrom
A baby was killed in foster care and now his mother is asking the county to pay. Our Tamara Lindstrom tells us why the mother of Adrian Hines is suing Tompkins County and the Department of Social Services and what the county had to say.

TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y. -- It is every mother's worst nightmare.
"You can imagine any parent, or any person, just having your child plucked from your arms and taken away and that child not just dying, but being killed in foster care," said Edward Kopko, attorney for the child's mother.

In July 2008, 13-month-old Adrian Hines was removed from his mother's home by the Department of Social Services, who Kopko says claimed the mother failed to provide a safe and sanitary home. Three months later, he was dead.

"She had a very brief opportunity to hold her child before the child passed away. She actually had to make the decision to withdraw life support systems from the child," Kopko said.

An autopsy revealed blunt trauma to the infant's head and bleeding in his brain. Adrian's death was ruled a homicide and that he was a victim of shaken baby syndrome.

A year and a half later, no one has been charged with a crime. District Attorney Gwen Wilkinson reports they have exhausted all leads and were unable to gather enough evidence to bring the case before a grand jury.

Now Adrian's mother, Kristine Freda, has filed a lawsuit against Tompkins County and the Department of Social Services.

"We contend that there was a gross deviation in proper standards here that led immediately and directly to the death of this child," Kopko said.

The lawsuit states that there was no basis for removing Adrian from his home in the first place, that DSS failed to explore leaving the child with a family member and failed to ensure the baby was properly cared for.

Freda is seeking damages for Adrian's medical bills and funeral costs and for pain and suffering.

"She has had her own immense suffering as a result of not only the death of her child, but the circumstances of the death of her child," Kopko said.

"The county has yet to answer the lawsuit. We're reviewing the allegations. But primarily we'll deny them," said County Attorney Jonathan Wood.

Due to the pending lawsuit, DSS and the county are unable to comment on the investigations.

"What I can say is, based on what I've reviewed, I don't have any reason to believe that the department didn't do everything it was supposed to do," Wood said.

"That is a bizarre comment," Kopko said. "Children of this age don't just die. This child died from a blunt trauma to its head. The coroner has determined that it was a homicide. Those are not ordinary common circumstances. There's a global universal issue here about how is could possibly happen that an infant is killed in foster care."

The D.A. said that while the case is cold, there is no statute of limitations on this type of homicide, so there is still a chance that whoever killed baby Adrian could be brought to justice.

The lawsuit is now in the discovery stage. Freda and her attorney are asking to see the results of the county's investigation into the homicide and records from the Department of Social Services.


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