Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Danieal Kelly: an update

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, 39 year-old Andrea Kelly will plead guilty to third-degree murder today in connection with the death in 2006 of her 14-year-old daughter, Danieal Kelly. For readers unfamiliar with this case, Danieal Kelly, who had cerebral palsy, died of starvation while under the supervision of Philadephia's Department of Human Services. At the time of her death in what has been described as a sweltering apartment, she weight just 46 pounds and her back as full of gaping bedsores infested with maggots. Her death and other failures by the DHS resulted in nine indictments, the firing of two DHS top officials and a number of reforms at the agency. As the Philadelphia Inquirer reports:

The girl's slow death happened while the family, which included 10 children, was under the supervision of DHS. Prosecutors say the DHS caseworkers failed to do their jobs, which was to protect the child from neglect.

The agency had hired a private social services agency, Multi-Ethnic Behavioral Health, to visit the home and make sure the Kelly children were being cared for.

DHS Commissioner Anne Marie Ambrose said Danieal's death helped bring about a new "culture of accountability" in the agency, and better procedures to assess the risk to children and to find them help. "This is a death that has transformed the agency, hopefully in a good way," Ambrose said.

Charges of involuntary manslaughter are still pending against a caseworker from Multi-Ethnic, Julius Juma Murray, 51, who failed to make the required home visits. Danieal Kelly's father, Daniel Kelly, has been charged with endangering the welfare of children. Andrea Kelly, 39, will agree to serve 20 to 40 years in prison for death of Danieal.