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

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

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.”

Troopers comb Huber man’s bizarre pre-death Facebook posts

Published: Tuesday, February 28, 2017 @ 11:22 AM


            Troopers comb Huber man’s bizarre pre-death Facebook posts

A Huber Heights man’s Facebook page is under investigation by state troopers for mysterious posts issued about an hour before he fled his moving vehicle, hid in a drainage culvert and died.

Social media accounts of Chuck Dickens Jr., 26, of Huber Heights, are subject to the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s investigation into the man’s death Sunday in Belmont County, Ohio, near West Virginia.

MORE: Huber man fled moving car, died in pipe

Patrol Lt. James Faunda on Monday said a team of investigators will conduct interviews in Huber Heights and continue to investigate social media, but “the big thing we’re waiting on is the medical examiner’s report.”

Reached by phone Tuesday, a Belmont County Coroner’s official said a medical exam and toxicology screen was ongoing at the Licking County Coroner’s Office. Troopers are also running blood tests.

A major question in the case is how and why Dickens made it to Belmont County on Sunday morning — more than 130 miles from Cleveland and nearly 200 miles from Huber Heights.

MORE: Huber home tied to county theft

Family members told troopers they believed Dickens was in Cleveland, Faunda said, noting troopers believe social media photos confirm Dickens attended the Saturday night Cleveland Cavilers game against the Chicago Bulls. The home game was played at Quicken Loans Arena in downtown Cleveland.

Dickens side-swiped another vehicle around 11:30 a.m. on Interstate 70 near mile marker 211, jumped from the vehicle before it came to a stop and ran across the highway and down a steep hill to a drainage culvert, police said.

About 50 minutes earlier, a string of profane posts began on Dickens’ Facebook page. The posts, reviewed by this newsroom, issued attacks on individuals and were met with confusion from the man’s social media followers.

MORE: Read more crime stories

“What the heck is going on,” one person commented on a series of 11 photos uploaded at 10:37 a.m., which appear to be screenshots of text message conversations and a Snapchat. Another person commented, “Huh?”

Another post from the account appears to recall the basketball game the night prior. The misspelled post appears to target an individual and includes a series of emojis, pictorial symbols used in text messages.

“Got that fentanyl for sell (sic) don’t you boy? I saw y’all (emoji for “looking”) at the CAVS vs BULLS GAME LAST NIGHT.” the post from 10:46 a.m. reads.

Troopers discovered Dickens crawled 200-300 feet inside a drainage culvert. At first he responded to troopers, but eventually stopped communicating. A police robot found him face down in water and a West Virginia dive squad removed his body from the culvert, at which time authorities declared him dead on the scene.

Girl survives car crash, is shot to death moments later

Published: Monday, February 27, 2017 @ 12:03 PM
Updated: Monday, February 27, 2017 @ 6:24 PM


            Girl survives car crash, is shot to death moments later

A Texas 8-year-old who escaped harm in a car accident early Saturday was shot and killed just moments later, police say.

De'Maree Adkins was asleep in the back seat of her mother’s car around 1 a.m. Saturday as they drove through southwest Houston. The Houston Chronicle reported that mother and daughter were just five minutes from home when a Pontiac Grand Prix blew through an intersection and collided with the Honda driven by De’Maree’s mother, Toyia Thomas.

Thomas’ first instinct was to be sure her daughter was OK.

“I called her name and I said, ‘Are you OK?’” Thomas told the Chronicle. “(She said) ‘Yeah, I’m OK. What happened, mama?’”

Thomas said that was when a third vehicle, a four-door sedan, pulled up next to her Honda. A woman got out of the car and opened fire on Thomas and her daughter.

“I don’t know who it was and I don’t know why she was shooting,” Thomas said.

She said she didn’t realize that De’Maree had been hit until she tried to get her daughter out of the car. That’s when she saw the blood.

“I told her to stay with me, stay with me,” Thomas told the Chronicle, breaking down in tears. “Her body just went limp.”

De’Maree was taken to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

My Godchild is gone to soon because of senseless violence.  Please keep Toyia Jarmon and family in your prayers, and donate to the GoFundMe account that has been set up for De'Maree's Memorialization.  🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽

Posted by Anzel Jennings on Sunday, February 26, 2017

Investigators said between five and seven shots were fired, though it is not yet clear if the shooter was targeting Thomas’ vehicle or someone in the Grand Prix involved in the crash.

“We don't know if they were firing at each other and struck the vehicle, or if once the accident happened, they got angry, jumped out and they shot the vehicle,” Detective David Stark told the newspaper. “We just don’t know.”

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As detectives looked for those responsible for De’Maree’s death, her family remembered her short life and mourned the milestones they won’t see her achieve. The MacGregor Elementary School honor student had recently started learning the violin.

Soliciting prayers for the family of De'Maree Adkins, one of our MacGregor babies and Frederick McBride's 3rd grade...

Posted by Stephanie York Blue on Sunday, February 26, 2017

Her grandfather, Melvin Jarmon, told KPRC 2 in Houston that De’Maree, who he called “the boss,” enjoyed making him toe the line. De’Maree’s older cousin recalled the last time she spoke to the little girl.

“Before the accident, she FaceTimed me and she told me that she loved me,” Victoria Jarmon said.

Thomas was struggling to understand her daughter’s death.

“She was a good girl, an honor roll student. Full of life,” Thomas told KPRC. “They took my baby away from me. Why? She didn’t deserve this. She was only 8.”

Police said that the driver of the Pontiac that was involved in the crash got into the sedan with the shooter and they fled together. No suspects had been publicly identified as of Monday morning.

Houston’s Crime Stoppers is offering a $5,000 reward for information in the case. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has added an additional $10,000 to that reward.

“Cecilia and I send our deepest sympathies to De'Maree’s family during this unimaginably difficult time,” Abbott said in a statement. “There is no place for heinous acts like this in Texas. We urge anyone who has any information to contact Houston Crime Stoppers immediately to bring those involved to justice.”

Anyone with information on De’Maree’s slaying can call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-8477, visit crime-stoppers.org or text a tip and “TIP610” to 274637. 

Related

17-year-old killed after girl sneaks him into home, dad mistakes him for burglar

Published: Monday, February 27, 2017 @ 4:32 PM
Updated: Monday, February 27, 2017 @ 4:32 PM


            17-year-old killed after girl sneaks him into home, dad mistakes him for burglar

A man shot and killed an intruder at his home early Saturday before learning that the victim, a 17-year-old, was let into the home by his 14-year-old daughter, according to multiple reports.

>> Read more trending stories

The slain teenager, identified in a news release obtained by the Augusta Chronicle as Jordan Middleton, was let into the family's home in Grovetown to visit with the 14-year-old girl, according to authorities.

Deputies with the Columbia County Sheriff's Office found Middleton dead around 2:50 a.m. after they were called to investigate reports of a burglary in progress. He was found in the home's foyer with a gunshot wound to the chest, deputies said.

The homeowner told deputies that he heard noises coming from downstairs early Saturday and armed himself to investigate the sounds. He found the family dog barking at the guest bedroom, deputies said.

He said that he was armed and demanded the intruder identify himself. When a second warning was met with silence, the man went into the room, deputies said.

He spotted Middleton running out of the room's closet, and shot him in the upper chest, according to authorities.

"He was just a great kid," Evans High School basketball coach Kevin Kenny told WJBF. "(He was) very likable, always had a smile on his face."

Kenny coached Middleton for two years before the teenager transferred to Grovetown High School, according to WJBF.

"You know, anytime you lose a young life like that and have that situation, it's shocking, it really is," Kenny said. "It's a terrible tragedy for both families. My heart goes out to both of them."

No charges have been filed in the case. Authorities continue to investigate.

‘Get out of my country,’ white man screams before gunning down Indian bar patrons, witnesses say

Published: Friday, February 24, 2017 @ 3:46 PM
Updated: Friday, February 24, 2017 @ 3:46 PM


            ‘Get out of my country,’ white man screams before gunning down Indian bar patrons, witnesses say

A Kansas man accused of killing an Indian man and wounding two others in a shooting in a bar screamed for them to “get out of (his) country” before opening fire, witnesses said.

Adam W. Purinton, 51, of Olathe, is charged with one count of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder in connection with the Wednesday night shooting at Austins Bar & Grill in Olathe. Two of the men who were shot are Indian nationals and the third is a local resident.

Witnesses told the Kansas City Star that Purinton was drinking and hurling racial slurs at Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, and Alok Madasani, 32, before he was kicked out of the bar. The bar was packed at the time with patrons watching the Kansas-TCU basketball game on television.

Purinton returned a short time later with a gun, authorities said.

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At least one witness heard him scream for the men to leave the country before he opened fire, the Star reported. The third man who was injured, Ian Grillot, 24, also of Olathe, was shot when he intervened, police said.

Kuchibhotla died a short time later at a hospital. Madasani was treated for his injuries and was released on Thursday.

#SrinivasKuchibhotla, 32, is dead after a man shot at him and another Indian engineer in a bar in Kansas on Wednesday...

Posted by Koritha Mitchell on Friday, February 24, 2017

Grillot, who remained hospitalized, spoke Thursday about the shooting in a video released by the University of Kansas Health System. From his hospital bed, he recalled hiding under a table when the gunman initially began shooting.

After hearing what sounded like nine shots, he thought the magazine of Purinton’s gun was empty, he said.

“I got up and proceeded to chase him down, try to subdue him so the police could come in and do what they needed to do,” Grillot said. “I guess I miscounted, with everything going on. I got behind him and he turned around and fired a round at me.”

The bullet went through his hand and into his chest, where it fractured a bone in his neck and barely missed his carotid artery, Grillot said.

“It could be better, but it could be a lot worse,” he said. “I’m grateful to be alive. Another half-inch and I could be dead or never walk again.”  

Grillot was praised by many for stepping in to stop the gunman. 

I commend Ian Grillot and the other Kansans in the restaurant for coming to the aid of Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok...

Posted by Senator Pat Roberts on Friday, February 24, 2017

Grillot shrugged off suggestions that he is a hero.

“I was just doing what anyone should have done for another human being,” Grillot said, a tear falling down his cheek. “It’s not about where he’s from or his ethnicity. We’re all humans. I did what was naturally right to do.”

He said he and Madasani, whose wife is five months pregnant, have spoken and become friends since the shooting.

“I’m just very grateful that one of the gentlemen is fine and alive,” Grillot said. “It’s terrible what happened to his friend. But I think he was watching over us last night, making sure that we made it through it all right.”

Purinton, a Navy veteran, former pilot and air traffic controller, fled the bar on foot, the Star reported. About five hours later, he told the bartender at a Clinton, Missouri, Applebee’s that he needed a place to hide because he’d killed two Middle Eastern men.

The bartender called police and Purinton was arrested without incident, the Star reported. He was being held in the Henry County Jail in lieu of $2 million bond.

‘The kindest person you would meet’

Kuchibhotla and Madasani, who both lived in Overland Park, worked together as engineers on the aviation systems engineering team at Garmin Ltd., which has its headquarters in Olathe.

Garmin on Friday posted a photo on its Facebook page that showed the flags outside its headquarters lowered to honor the men. In a public statement, the company said it is devastated by the tragedy that killed Kuchibhotla and injured Madasani and Grillot.

“Srinivas was a valued member of our engineering team and will be greatly missed,” the statement read. “We are working closely with Srinivas' and Alok’s families and appreciate the outpouring of support for them. As we grieve this tragedy as a community, our thoughts and prayers are with all involved.”

We’re devastated by the senseless tragedy that took the life of one of our associates and friends, Srinivas Kuchibhotla,...

Posted by Garmin on Friday, February 24, 2017

Brandon Blum, the owner of Austins Bar & Grill, also offered sympathy to the victims and their families in a statement posted on the bar’s website.

“We are so sorry that this happened on our premises,” Blum wrote. “We have never experienced any sort of tragedy like this in our 30 years. For all of our loyal friends and patrons, we want to thank you for your ongoing support.

“We will be working diligently, doing anything we can to support and help the parties that were involved.”

Blum wrote that the bar would remain closed until Saturday to allow staff and patrons time to process what happened.

GoFundMe pages have been set up to help Kuchibhotla’s widow and parents, as well as to help Madasani and Grillot with medical expenses. The page for Kuchibhotla said the funds would go toward funeral expenses and the expenses of sending his body back to India “so his parents can say goodbye one last time to their beloved son.”

“Srini was the kindest person you would meet, full of love, care and compassion for everyone,” the page read. “He never uttered a word of hatred, a simple gossip or a careless comment. He was brilliant, well-mannered and simply an outstanding human being.”

As of Friday afternoon, the page had raised more than $400,000.

The second fundraising page aimed at helping Kuchibhotla and Madasani was started by a stranger. Brian Ford of Shawnee, Kansas, wrote on the page that he was motivated to help when he learned of the shooting. He said he has a friend who worked with both men at Garmin.

“Let's send a message that we will support those who are targeted -- and stand against all who wish to spread hate -- by raising funds to help the victims of this horrendous act of senseless violence,” Ford wrote.

That page had raised nearly $60,000 as of Friday. The GoFundMe page set up to help Grillot with his medical bills had nearly reached its $200,000 goal.

Police officials on Thursday declined to say whether the shooting might be considered a hate crime. Local officials were investigating the case with assistance from the FBI and the Department of Justice.

The Kansas chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations called for state and federal hate crime charges to be brought against Purinton, the Star reported. Hate crime charges would “send a strong message that violence targeting religious or ethnic minorities will not be tolerated,” said Moussa Elbayoumy, chapter chairman.