Woman admits beating 2-year-old son to death for ‘whining’

Published: Thursday, February 09, 2017 @ 1:08 PM
Updated: Thursday, February 09, 2017 @ 1:08 PM

(Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
(Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

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.

 

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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.

 
“Some cases are awful and the people involved are just plain evil. But this is not one of those cases.”

Feds charge 2 men for trafficking at least 11 pounds of cocaine

Published: Friday, September 22, 2017 @ 1:52 PM


            Jorge Enriquez (left) and Jose Sloss
Jorge Enriquez (left) and Jose Sloss

Two men who stayed at a Miller Lane Hotel in June have been accused of trafficking more than 11 pounds of cocaine, with one man telling investigators they sold most to a drug dealer in Detroit and some in Dayton.

Jorge Enriquez, 25, and Jose Sloss, 34, face charges in Dayton’s U.S. District Court, according to a complaint written by a Homeland Security Investigations special agent.

Enriquez was indicted and scheduled for an Oct. 30 trial. Sloss is scheduled to plea Oct. 4 to a bill of information for aiding and abetting another person and knowingly and intentionally possessing with intent to distribute 500 or more grams of cocaine.

MORE: Woman pleads guilty to lowest count in case involving 26 pounds of meth

The complaint shows that the Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) conducted surveillance on the pair after learning June 12 that they were staying at the Extended Stay America on Miller Lane in Butler Twp.

Surveillance continued for multiple days and the pair was stopped on Interstate 75 North for a traffic violation, according to the complaint.

The special agent wrote that an Ohio State Patrol trooper smelled marijuana and searched the vehicle, finding some marijuana and unused rubber bands. The pair was let go with a warning.

MORE: Task force seizes $300,000 worth of cocaine, $200,000 in cash

The complaint said that a special agent obtained a search warrant for the pair’s Chevrolet pickup and to install a Global Positioning System (GPS) on it.

The special agent wrote that GPS and mobile surveillance revealed the vehicle traveled to several locations on the west side of Dayton and also to the Indianapolis, Ind., area, Chillicothe and Detroit.

On June 22, troopers cited Enriquez for driving 80 mph in a 70 mph zone and found marijuana and an unknown narcotic, according to the complaint.

MORE: Read other stories from Mark Gokavi

The special agent wrote that Enriquez waived his Miranda warnings, admitted to trafficking multiple kilograms of cocaine and said there was about $200,000 and a handgun in the Extended Stay hotel room.

The complaint said simultaneously to the traffic stop, agents did a “knock and talk” at the hotel, where they wore tactical ballistic vests with “Police” markings.

The special agent wrote that a protective sweep was done of the hotel room before Sloss allowed a search of it. Police allowed a speakerphone call between Sloss and Enriquez in which Enriquez instructed Sloss to cooperate with agents.

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A Springfield Xp-40 handgun and ammunition was found as well as the cash and some marijuana, according to the complaint.

The special agent wrote that Enriquez said they had 14 kilograms (about 30.8 pounds) of cocaine they brought from Texas to Ohio and that most of it was sold to someone in Detroit.

The complaint concluded that “Enriquez changed the total amount of kilograms of cocaine he transported and sold after agents discovered a ‘drug ledger’ in the hotel room,” but it did not specify the new number.

Champaign County teen charged with murder gets hearing pushed back

Published: Friday, September 22, 2017 @ 10:32 AM


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A scheduling conflict has forced a hearing for a Champaign County teen accused of killing a woman to be pushed back.

Donovan Nicholas, 14, was set for an amenability hearing on Friday. Champaign County Prosecutor Kevin Talebi told the Springfield News-Sun that a scheduling conflict forced the case to be put on hold for a month.

MORE: Champaign Co. prosecutors want 8th-grade murder suspect tried

The amenability hearing was rescheduled for Oct. 31 at 10 a.m. It is expected to take the whole day to complete.

An amenability hearing reviews a juvenile offender’s likelihood of rehabilitation in the juvenile justice system.

Nicholas is accused of stabbing and shooting 40-year-old Heidi Fay Taylor in April. Taylor was Nicholas’ girlfriend, according to police. A motive has not been released by authorities. Nicholas was charged with murder and aggravated murder in connection with her death.

Nicholas made national news because 9-1-1 audio indicates he accused an alternate personality named Jeff of killing the woman.

READ: 8th grade murder suspect’s revealing 9-1-1 call

“I just killed my mother,” Nicholas can be heard saying on the recording. “It wasn’t me who, who, it wasn’t me who killed her. It was Jeff. Jeff. I’m sorry. This is going to be really hard to explain but I kind of have another person inside me.”

He also tells the 9-1-1 operator that he stabbed himself that night.

EXTRA: 911 call: Champaign 8th-grader claims other personality killed woman

Prosecutors are hoping to move Nicholas to adult court. Talebi said in a statement the reason for this is because of the seriousness of the accusations.

Deputies: Men hold Uber driver at gunpoint; mistake him for burglar

Published: Friday, September 22, 2017 @ 11:43 AM

Men Mistake Uber Driver For Burglar And Hold Him At Gunpoint, Deputies Say

Roberto Augustin had just finished making a food delivery for Uber on Saturday night when he became lost inside a neighborhood in unincorporated Delray Beach, Florida.

As Augustin tried to find his way out, he was approached by two armed men riding in a golf cart.

“Get out of the car, or we’re going to kill you,” Augustin heard as his body froze in fear.

The men, pointing handguns at his head, ordered Augustin to get on his knees and put his hands in the air. One of the men then fired a warning shot into the air that Augustin said whizzed past his head.

“I thought it was my last day,” said Augustin, 32.

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According to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, the gunmen weren’t robbers but a pair of community watch members on patrol. The incident took place just before midnight.

Dustyn Brandon Jenkins, 36, and Micah Paul Mercer, 41, told deputies they saw Augustin driving around the Country Club Acres neighborhood — just west of Military Trail and south of Atlantic Avenue — in a “suspicious manner” and that when they approached him, Augustin became aggressive and charged at them. That caused them to draw their weapons and point them at Augustin, they said.

Jenkins admitted firing a warning shot to keep Augustin from fleeing, the report said.

Augustin told deputies he thought Jenkins and Mercer were out to rob him because neither man was wearing any identification and both were in plain clothes.

Augustin said he has been working as an Uber driver for less than six months and was not familiar with the area. Augustin said he was struggling to find a way out when Jenkins and Mercer came at him.

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The arrest report shows the incident took place in front of Mercer’s home in the 15100 block of Hayes Road. Country Club Acres’ Facebook page describes it as a community of more than 500 single-family homes established in 1958.

“I was so scared,” said Augustin, who is originally from Haiti. “I didn’t know what they were after. I thought I was going to die.”

Jenkins and Mercer are each facing a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Jenkins is also facing a charge of firing a weapon in public.

Jenkins and Mercer were released from the Palm Beach County Jail on Sunday after posting $3,000 bonds. The men were ordered during a court appearance Sunday not to have any contact either with each other or Augustin or to possess any weapons.

Surviving victim to undergo surgery after deadly heroin-related attack

Published: Friday, September 22, 2017 @ 6:39 AM


            Christopher and Jacqueline Kirby await hearings Thursday in Warren County Court.
Christopher and Jacqueline Kirby await hearings Thursday in Warren County Court.

The surviving victim of last Friday’s alleged armed robbery in South Lebanon is expected to undergo surgery for head injuries sustained in the attack, a prosecutor said.

Ronnie Power remained in critical condition and is to undergo surgery for what Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell referred to as a “major, major head injury.”

Deborah Power, 63, of South Lebanon was pronounced dead from head injuries Sept. 15 at the Powers’ home in South Lebanon.

Both Powers were beaten “in the head with a blunt force object,” Fornshell added this morning.

RELATED: Warren County couple held on murder charges in relative’s beating

Christopher Kirby, 38, and his wife, Jaqueline Kirby, 30, are charged with murder, attempted murder and aggravated robbery in the case. The Kirbys were living with the Powers.

They are accused of beating the Powers to buy heroin, according to Fornshell.

Authorities are still trying to verify they have the murder weapon.

On Thursday, Christopher Kirby pleaded guilty to driving under suspension during a hearing Thursday in Warren County Court.

Judge William Wolff ordered Kirby to pay court costs associated with the driving violation, but waived any fines or jail time “under the circumstances.”

MORE: 2 arrested in South Lebanon; Woman killed, man in critical condition

Wolff, a retired judge appointed by the Ohio Supreme Court, also bound over for consideration by a grand jury charges of murder, attempted murder and aggravated robbery against the Kirbys during the hearing in court in Lebanon.

The driving under suspension case, filed on Aug. 22, predates the incident Sept. 15 that resulted in the murder and other charges.

MORE: Indictment issued in Franklin stabbing

It was filed on Aug. 22, but Christopher Kirby had never appeared until his arrest in connection with the murder case, according to court records.

The couple is suspected of using Ronnie Power’s truck to get to West Chester Hospital, where he was undergoing treatment for head injuries he allegedly received from them, forming the basis for the attempted murder charges.

Power’s condition remained critical Friday, according to Fornshell.

MORE: Murder trial delayed due to defense lawyer problem

Power’s 1994 Dodge Ram was found in the parking lot of West Chester Hospital on Sept. 16, the day after the Kirbys are suspected of beating the Powers during a robbery at the house at 59 W. Broadway in South Lebanon, where they all lived.

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Deborah Power was found under a blanket on Sept. 15 and “cold to the touch with blood underneath” by sheriff’s deputies called to a home at 59 W. Broadway in South Lebanon just before midnight Sept. 15, according to a search warrant.

On Tuesday, Wolff set bond for the Kirbys at $250,000 each. They remained in the Warren County Jail on Friday.

Fornshell indicated the case would not be presented to the grand jury today.