Monday, August 04, 2008

Residential-care cottage suspends worker charged in Danieal Kelly's death

From The Delco Times (Philadelphia, PA)

A 51-year-old Upper Darby man charged with involuntary manslaughter in the August 2006 death of a disabled Philadelphia girl has been suspended from his job at Elwyn, a human service organization for the developmentally disabled in Middletown.
Elwyn President Sandra Cornelius said Julius Murray, who Philadelphia police records show as living on the 200 block of Heather Road in Upper Darby, was suspended Friday, the same day he was arraigned in Philadelphia Municipal Court and charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of 14-year-old Danieal Kelly.

A Philadelphia grand jury report released last Thursday concluded that Murray, who worked for a private agency, Philadelphia Department of Human Services case workers, and the girl's parents, could have prevented her from dying of starvation and infection. All are facing charges in connection with the death of the teenager, who was only 42 pounds when she died.

A cerebral palsy victim, Danieal was malnourished and suffering from maggot-infested bedsores when paramedics found her dead Aug. 4, 2006, in a stifling room on a mattress on a feces-covered floor in her mother's West Philadelphia home.

Cornelius said Murray's application to Elwyn did not mention his involvement with the Danieal Kelly case. Cornelius declined to discuss Murray's duties at Elwyn, but according to Philadelphia police records, he was a supervisor. He is reportedly a second-shift supervisor at a residential-care cottage on Elwyn's main campus in Middletown.

"He's innocent until proven guilty," said Cornelius. "We're cooperating with (Philadelphia District Attorney) Lynne Abraham, for whom we have the utmost
respect. We felt the best action for everyone's interests is to suspend Mr. Murray.

"Danieal had been in the care of the Philadelphia Department of Human Services who, in 2005, had contracted the now-defunct MultiEthnic Behavioral Health agency to handle the case.

Murray, an employee of the private agency, was required to visit the family twice a week, but investigators believe he may have gone to the home only once to have the child's mother, Andrea Kelly, sign pre-dated forms attesting to future visits he never made to check on Danieal's welfare.

In addition to involuntary manslaughter, Murray has been charged with records-tampering, forgery, fabricating evidence, endangering the welfare of children and recklessly endangering another person. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 11. It was not clear Saturday night whether he had made bail that was set at 10 percent of $50,000. Mickal Kamuvaka, director of MultiEthnic Behavioral Health, has also been charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Andrea Kelly, 39, has been charged with murder and her 37-year-old husband, Darby resident Daniel Kelly, with child endangerment. Two Philadelphia Department of Human Services social workers assigned to Danieal's case, Dana Poindexter and Laura Sommerer, have been charged with endangering the welfare of children and recklessly endangering another person.

Three friends of Andrea Kelly are charged with perjury for allegedly trying to protect Mrs. Kelly by lying to the grand jury about Danieal's emaciated condition.According to the 258-page grand jury report, the Philadelphia Department of Human Services received at least five reports about the mistreatment of Danieal between 2003 and 2005. She was described as a "helpless child sitting unattended, unkempt and unwashed, in a small stroller in her own urine and feces" whose mother ignored her screams.

The stroller served as a wheelchair and apparently never left the house.

On Friday, city officials announced the resignation of Philadelphia Assistant Health Commissioner Carmen Paris, who, the grand jury maintained, interfered in the investigation of Danieal's death while she was acting health commissioner.Last Thursday, newly installed Philadelphia Human Services Commissioner Anne Marie Ambrose vowed to improve child safety and worker accountability in the agency.