Chil­dren Ser­vices of­fi­cials don’t want to tes­tify in mur­der case

The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Tracey Read tread@news-herald.com @traceyre­port­ing on Twit­ter

Cuya­hoga County Pros­e­cu­tor Michael C. O’Mal­ley’s of­fice is ask­ing a judge to re­lieve county De­part­ment of Chil­dren & Fam­ily Ser­vices em­ploy- ees from tes­ti­fy­ing in a Eu- clid mur­der case.

Four-year-old Aniya Day-Gar­rett died March 11 from a stroke that au­thor­i­ties say was caused by a blunt-force head in­jury.

The girl’s mother, 23-year-old Sierra Day, and her boyfriend, 26-year-old Deonte Lewis, have been charged with her mur­der. Euclid po­lice and fire per­son­nel re­sponded to the Cul­tural Gar­den Apart­ments on Lake Shore Boule­vard about 11:30 a.m. that day af­ter some­one re­ported a med­i­cal emer­gency in­volv­ing an un­re­spon­sive child.

The child had burn marks and was ema­ci­ated and bruised. She was pro­nounced dead at Cleve­land Clinic Euclid Hos­pi­tal.

Gar­rett’s fa­ther pre­vi­ously said he sus­pected she was be­ing abused and tried to get cus­tody be­fore her death. He has called for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the county’s child wel­fare agency. An agency spokes­woman said in­ves­ti­ga­tors never found enough ev­i­dence to re­move the girl from her home.

Day and Lewis were in­dicted on ag­gra­vated mur­der charges in April. They are sched­uled to be tried in Oc­to­ber in Cuya­hoga County Com­mon Pleas Court.

Prose­cu­tors re­cently asked Judge Ti­mothy McCormick to quash the de­fense sub­poena served on Chil­dren & Fam­ily Ser­vices and grant a pro­tec­tive or­der from pro­duc­ing doc­u­ments re­lated to re­fer­rals made to the agency about the mi­nor vic­tim.

“The de­fense sub­poena should be quashed and a pro­tec­tive or­der granted be­cause in­ves­ti­ga­tory records of pos­si­ble child abuse or ne­glect are con­fi­den­tial un­der Ohio law,” ac­cord­ing to a mo­tion filed by As­sis­tant Cuya­hoga County Pros­e­cu­tor Reno Ora­dini Jr.

Live tes­ti­mony from em­ploy­ees who par­tic­i­pated in an in­ves­ti­ga­tion is also for­bid­den, Ora­dini added.

Chil­dren & Fam­ily Ser­vices of­fi­cials are in­stead ask­ing McCormick to pri­vately look at the con­fi­den­tial in­for­ma­tion to de­ter­mine what — if any — of that in­for­ma­tion may be made pub­lic.

Mean­while, state of­fi­cials pre­vi­ously said they in­tend to re­voke the li­censes of two Euclid day cares the girl at­tended.

Get Ready, Set, Grow Preschool, 24251 Lake Shore Blvd., and Har­bor Crest Child­care Academy, 26191 Brush Ave., were cited for al­legedly fail­ing to no­tify au­thor­i­ties of sus­pi­cion of child abuse and ne­glect.

Af­ter fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Ohio De­part­ment of Job and Fam­ily Ser­vices sent cer­ti­fied let­ters in late April to the two day cares, stat­ing that the de­part­ment in­tends to re­voke the li­censes.

The de­part­ment found that Get Ready, Set, Grow failed to com­ply with 14 pro­vi­sions in the Ohio Ad­min­is­tra­tive Code.

Those vi­o­la­tions in­cluded the lack of a back­ground check on a child care staff mem­ber who had sole re­spon­si­bil­ity of the Pre-K group. That em­ployee did not have a Bureau of Crim­i­nal In­ves­ti­ga­tions or FBI crim­i­nal record check on her file.

The cen­ter’s ad­min­is­tra­tor also failed to com­plete the Ohio De­part­ment of Job and Fam­ily Ser­vices pre­scribed one-hour child abuse overview. There were mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions when chil­dren were left unat­tended, ac­cord­ing to the de­part­ment’s let­ter. The de­part­ment also states a day care cen­ter staff mem­ber made a child sleep in a closet on more than one oc­ca­sion.

The let­ter to Har­bor Crest cited the cen­ter for fail­ing to com­ply with 11 pro­vi­sions in the Ohio Ad­min­is­tra­tive Code. The de­part­ment de­ter­mined the cen­ter pro­vided false in­for­ma­tion when staff mem­bers pre­sented inac­cu­rate em­ploy­ment records. A staff mem­ber at Har­bor Crest also did not com­plete the re­quired one­hour child abuse overview.

On March 23, a se­ri­ous in­ci­dent was not re­ported to the Ohio Child Li­cens­ing and Qual­ity Sys­tem af­ter an in­ci­dent, ill­ness or in­jury re­quired the child to be re­moved by the par­ent or emer­gency ser­vices for med­i­cal treat­ment. The de­part­ment also re­ported that chil­dren were left un­su­per­vised.

Sierra Day, left, and Deonte Lewis

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