log in to manage your profile and account
- Create your account
- Receive up-to-date newsletters
- Set up text alerts
Published: Thursday, February 09, 2017 @ 1:08 PM
Updated: Thursday, February 09, 2017 @ 1:08 PM
CALGARY, Alberta — A Canadian woman pleaded guilty this week to manslaughter in the 2014 death of her toddler son, who she said she beat to death out of frustration over his “whining.”
The Calgary Herald reported that Livia Starlight awaits sentencing in the slaying of 2-year-old Traezlin Denzel Starlight. Starlight’s defense lawyer is seeking mercy, citing her status as a member of the Tsuut’ina Nation, one of the predominant aboriginal peoples of Canada.
Starlight, 30, was initially charged with second-degree murder. She was arrested in July 2015 after an investigation into her son’s death.
Crown prosecutor Photini Papadatou told the Court of Queen’s Bench on Monday that Traezlin was in and out of foster care throughout his short life because of Starlight’s drug and alcohol use, the Herald reported. Starlight was already under investigation for previous injuries to the boy on Sept. 18, 2014, when she said she grew frustrated by his behavior.
“When he started whining again, she picked him up off the floor and threw him onto the couch,” Papadatou said, according to the Herald. “While the cushions of the couch are soft, the arms of the couch are quite hard.”
When Starlight realized a few moments later that Traezlin was in distress, she texted her mother for help, the newspaper reported. “My baby’s not breathing. I’m scared,” read the text, which also asked Starlight’s mother to call for help.
Traezlin went into cardiac arrest in an ambulance on the way to Alberta Children’s Hospital and died a week later, the Herald said.
At the time of the fatal beating, Starlight was under investigation for a head injury that Traezlin suffered in August 2014, when she had him out of his foster home for a visit. In that case, Starlight claimed that her son fell out of his car seat and onto his head.
There were at least two previous incidents of alleged abuse as well, beginning in June 2014. In those instances, Starlight blamed the bruises on her son’s foster parents and Calgary police investigators could not determine the cause of the injuries.
“It was noted Livia Starlight would not cooperate with investigators, and she refused to provide a statement,” read a statement of agreed-upon facts presented in court on Monday. “The children were left in Livia’s care while the investigation proceeded.”
Traezlin’s autopsy showed evidence of multiple head injuries, including at least two inflicted in the month between the start of the most recent investigation into Starlight’s treatment of him and the day he suffered his fatal injuries.
The Herald reported that the autopsy also found bruises on the toddler’s abdomen and buttocks.
Alain Hepner, Starlight’s defense lawyer, is seeking a term of four to six years in prison for his client, who he claims has suffered a lifetime of racism and discrimination as an aboriginal person. Justice William Tilleman has ordered a psychiatric evaluation of Starlight, as well as a Gladue report on her background.
According to the Washington Post, a Gladue report is a presentencing report that takes into account the level of prejudice against aboriginal peoples in Canada’s criminal justice system. Proponents of the reports say the documents contribute to a “restorative approach” to justice.
Critics liken the reports to get-out-of-jail-free cards that lead to inconsistent administration of justice, the Post reported.
“A court worker will delve into the dynamics of Starlight’s life -- the growing-up years, the economic and social issues that surround the family and what contributed to this matter,” Hepner told the Post. “I think a lot of information will come forward from the psychiatric report and the Gladue report that will paint her, in my view, as a very sympathetic person.
Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 12:53 PM
The former Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office captain charged with misdemeanor assault for pepper-spraying an inmate in a restraint chair had her trial pushed back until May 29.
A previously unscheduled hearing in Dayton Municipal Court was held Feb. 12 in which Judith Sealey’s trial was continued from March 22.
Sealey, a sergeant in November 2015, is accused of pepper spraying Montgomery County Jail inmate Amber Swink, who was strapped in seven-point harness and who had already been sprayed once before that. The county settled a federal lawsuit with Swink and her attorney for $375,000.
Also, Judge Christopher Roberts recused himself from hearing the case which will prompt the appointing of a visiting judge. No visiting judge has been named, according to the docket.
Roberts wrote that he “maintains professional relationships with jail command staff and other deputies of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office,” according to court documents. “Due to the potential for conflict or claims of bias resulting from these relationships, recusal is necessary.”
Sealey did not appear in court in a December hearing, but defense attorney Anthony VanNoy and Cincinnati Prosecutor’s Office assistant Natalia Harris met with Roberts before that pretrial hearing.
The case is being handled by the Cincinnati Prosecutor’s Office because Dayton City Prosecutor Stephanie Cook — a member of a Montgomery County Jail oversight committee — said it would be seen as a potential conflict of interest for her office to try the case.
Sealey, who took medical disability retirement, has pleaded not guilty to the charge.
VanNoy did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment. Harris has said she would not comment about an open case.
A Montgomery County grand jury in 2017 declined to indict Sealey on felony charges and findings of a federal probe into this incident and other jail issues have not been announced.
Video of the pepper-spraying came to light months after the incident when Swink’s attorney, Douglas Brannon, posted it on his website.
The video spurred the lawsuit, the ongoing federal probe, the misdemeanor criminal charge against Sealey, and contributed to calls for oversight of jail operations.
Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 12:19 PM
DAYTON — A sneaky new scam involving tax refunds is growing, and it means you need to keep a close eye on your bank account.
There are several variations of the scam: unexpected refund deposits to your bank account using compromised bank routing information, suspicious paper checks coming in the mail and, in one case reported in Maryland, it appeared a fraudulent refund check had been deposited using a smartphone.
According to the IRS, the victim will then receive a call or recorded message saying they need to return the funds to a collection agency-which is actually the scam account.
If you pay the scammers, you will get a double whammy hit to your bank account when the IRS or your bank realize that the deposit was bogus and withdraws the funds.
The number of victims jumped from a few hundred to a few thousand in just days, after more tax practitioner data breaches, according to the IRS.
The IRS has these recommendations to avoid getting scammed:
If you notice a suspicious deposit, contact your bank to have the money returned to the IRS and call the IRS at 800-829-1040.
If you receive a paper check, write “void” in the endorsement field on the back and return it to the location printed on the check.
Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 11:49 AM
MIDDLETOWN — Two Middletown High School students were charged with disorderly conduct after a disturbance Friday in the school that caused a lockdowns at multiple schools, Middletown police said.
After the fight, someone in the crowd yelled: “He’s probably going to get a gun,” according to Maj. Scott Reeve from the Middletown Division of Police.
But police don’t believe anyone “threatened” to get a gun, Reeve said.
The alleged comment was reported by students to school officials, who immediately informed police, causing a rush to the school. Police then closed down the school’s doors, keeping anyone from leaving or coming in, Reeve said.
Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 11:10 AM
MIDDLETOWN — Middletown police rarely respond to call for service at a Middletown bar where a man was punched and later died Saturday, according to police reports.
Police have been called to Old Crow Bar, 1217 Jackson Lane, three times this year, for reports of a bad check, possible OVI arrest and for Saturday’s incident.
John W. Fugate, 46, a musician who booked bands at the Old Crow Bar, died Saturday morning after an incident in the Middletown bar, according to Middletown police and friends.
Fugate allegedly was punched while he was standing on stage around 1 a.m. Saturday, said Maj. Scott Reeve from the Middletown Division of Police. Fugate fell backward off the stage and hit his head on the concrete floor, Reeve said. He was unconscious when police arrived at 1:18 a.m., Reeve said. Fugate was transported to Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, where he died Saturday, police said.
Reeve said police know who allegedly punched Fugate, but no charges have been filed. After the investigation is complete, the facts will be presented to the Butler County Grand Jury for consideration, Reeve said.
In 2017, police responded to the bar once for a possible drunk patron on Sept. 15, according to police reports.
Police were called to the bar four times in 2016 for reports of domestic dispute, drugs, public disturbance and breaking and entering.
Reeve said Old Crow has changed management a few times, and while it was “a problem at times,” it’s not causing a nuisance now.
Fugate’s autopsy was performed by the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office, but results have not been released, officials said.