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Wyoming Victims

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Please take the time to read about and remember Wyoming  children who  have been repeatedly harmed after reports were made.   All are victims of crimes which could have been avoided if the system worked for them.  help us help end this tragedy.

 

Sandra Bell of Cheyenne

Child abuse suspect faces new claims
A Cheyenne woman is accused of violating the terms of her probation, which she received for allegedly abusing her son.

By Cameron Mathews

rep9@wyomingnews.com

CHEYENNE - A woman accused of abusing her son two years ago appeared in Laramie County District Court on Monday after a bench warrant was issued for her arrest.

Sandra Bell, who was charged with child abuse as Sandra Prano in May 2004, denied allegations Monday that she violated conditions of her probation by consuming alcohol and quitting her job.

Bell pleaded no contest in October 2004. Diane Lozano, Bell's attorney, asked Laramie County District Judge Pete Arnold to withdraw her plea and take the case to trial.

Arnold denied the request but signed off on a plea agreement and treated Bell as a first-time offender.

Officers responded to Bell's home around 8:30 a.m. May 8, 2004, to find her youngest son, Jacob Prano, hiding in a doghouse. Police said her son was hiding because he was afraid of her.

Officials say Bell had been contacted before for previous disturbances.

While officers confronted Bell, Jacob approached police officers and showed them welts on his collar bone, and fingernail marks on his neck and jaw.

Bell admitted to drinking several beers before the officers arrived and that she was in the middle of a divorce with her husband.

Records show Bell became angry when she asked her son to get her the phone and he brought her back a cordless phone instead of the cell phone she allegedly wanted.

On March 29, 2005, Bell was sentenced to five years of supervised probation.

Court records show Bell's conviction would have been erased if she had obeyed all laws for duration of her five-year probation.

But a petition for the revocation of her probation was filed Oct. 23.

Court records accuse Bell of repeatedly violating several conditions of her probation between Aug. 8, 2005, and Oct. 13 this year.

Many of those violations included the consumption of alcohol, diluted urinalysis tests and quitting her job without the court's permission.

In January, she failed to attend a scheduled meeting with her probation agent.

On Oct. 13, Bell submitted to a breathalyzer test, which was one of the conditions listed in her probationary terms, and failed.

On the same day, Bell quit her job without permission of the court to do so. This, too, was a direct violation of her probation, and the court then requested Bell return to court for further disposition.

Bell appeared in court Monday with attorney Lozano, where she denied the allegations.

She will have a disposition hearing before Judge Arnold at 1:30 p.m. Monday.

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Wyoming: Fosterers accused of scalding 6-yr-old foster child



Wyoming, August 27, 2004, 6:16 p.m.)

Ofelia Garcia and her husband, Micah, are accused of scalding their foster child with hot water, leading to third-degree burns.

The victim is a six-year-old child who has worked her way through the system, found a foster family, and was a week away from adoption. Now she sits in a hospital room recovering from what doctors call severe and incredibly painful burns after something happened.

Authorities believe that something was intentional. It started with a trip to a hospital where the child was taken suffering from severe burns. The Garcias said it was a bathing accident but doctors said otherwise.

"There is a major inconsistency between the foster parents' story as to how this happened and what the injuries are indicative of happening," says Lieutenant Paul Robinson of the Wyoming Police Department.

Experts believe scalding hot water was poured on the girl. Police say the girl's foster mom, Ofelia, stated she tried to remedy the scalded skin with hydrogen peroxide. "Hydrogen peroxide can burn, and when put on a burn I would imagine that it's gonna be pretty uncomfortable," says Lieutenant Robinson.

Doctors also found the girl had a fractured eye socket.

24 Hour News 8 went visited the Garcias and talked to a family member who said they didn't want to talk on camera.

We looked into the background check procedures for foster parents. The placement agency, D.A. Blodgett, says their checks include history, criminal, personal, driving and even a social worker assessment.

The Garcias passed these checks but now stand charged with child abuse. Lieutenant Robinson says they're innocent until proven otherwise, but worries about a little girl whose only home now is a hospital room. "How much more trauma does a child have to endure?" asks Robinson.

The Garcias also have a biological child who is in protective custody. The couple will be in court again next month. The child abuse charge is a 15-year felony.

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Rest In Peace
angel010.gif
Marcela

This story came from: http://www.dailyranger.com/


By Alicia Giuffrida
Staff Writer
A somber, tearful mood prevailed in the Hot Springs County Courthouse Friday morning when opening arguments and witness testimony began in the murder trial of Andrew John Yellowbear Jr.
Yellowbear, an enrolled member of the Northern Arapaho tribe, is accused of abusing to death his 22-month-old daughter, Marcela Hope Blackburn in Riverton.
He faces the death penalty if convicted of the July 2, 2004, death termed by an emergency room physician “the most severe case of child abuse I have ever witnessed.”
The child’s mother, Macalia Blackburn, has pleaded guilty as an accessory to the crime.
The trial was moved from Fremont County after a successful motion by Yellowbear for a change of venue.
Fremont County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Tim Gist was first to address the all-white jury, selected just an hour before opening statements began.
The courtroom lights were dimmed, and a projection screen filled the room with an image of happy, healthy Marcela Hope Black-burn, eating an ice-cream cone in a photo taken just two months before her death.
“This is how Marcela looked in the early weeks of May 2004, when she was living with her foster parents,” Gist said.
Tears in the jury
The image changed, and the mood shifted all at once. A close-up photo of the dead child’s face now assaulted the jurors: eyes and cheeks blackened with bruises, open red sores all over her face and around her mouth.
“This case is solely and exclusively about
Marcela Hope Yellowbear, who had the grave misfortune to have her life and well-being placed into the hands of her parents,” said Gist.
Jurors began wiping tears from their eyes.
From an early age, Marcela was in custody of her great-grandmother, Ruby Blackburn, who turned care of the child over to Macalia Blackburn’s cousin, Littlehawk Blackburn, and his wife Leah Lonebear.
Littlehawk Blackburn and Lonebear took care of Marcela for over a year, but when Littlehawk decided to move to be with family in Colorado, Ruby Blackburn returned the child to Macalia Blackburn and Andrew Yellowbear. When Littlehawk Blackburn came back to town and tried to see the girl he considered his daughter, the door was slammed in his face.
A month later, the child was brought into the emergency room with an astounding number of injuries, no longer breathing.
Gist and defense attorney Vaughn Neubauer told this same story in their opening arguments, and Littlehawk Blackburn confirmed it in witness testimony a few minutes later.
Defense implicates mother
However, when Gist described the details of Marcela’s abuse, he implicated Yellowbear, and when Neubauer spoke, he sounded as though he were a prosecutor in the imaginary case of State of Wyoming vs. Macalia Blackburn.
“This is a case about a mother who killed her daughter,” Neubauer said.
Gist said specifically that the cause of death determined in the child’s autopsy was “complications of repetitive, abusive blunt-force injuries.” Yellowbear, seated in the court in a button-down shirt and tie, looked at each picture of his dead child as Gist detailed her injuries: bruises and sores all over her body, a hole in the base of her chin, black eyes, a broken arm, third-degree burns to her right hand, and deep sores in her buttocks.
Though the child died after Macalia Blackburn suspended her from a closet rod by her suspenders, Gist said, “There was nothing around her neck. The pathologist who conducted the autopsy found no evidence suggesting Marcela’s suspension in the closet was the reason she died.”
Neubauer disagreed, echoing defense arguments presented at Yellowbear’s preliminary hearing.
“Little Marcela asphyxiated to death in the closet,” he said, telling jurors that the pressure of suspender straps on either side of her neck and the position of her head caused her to suffocate.
Yellowbear was not home when Blackburn suspended her in the closet.
Yellowbear faces four charges: two that accuse him of directly perpetrating the abuse, and two that accuse him of acting as an accessory to Macalia Blackburn’s abuse of Marcela. Jurors have a choice between deciding Yellowbear committed the abuse, finding him guilty because he aided and abetted Blackburn in committing the abuse, or finding him not guilty of either.
First witnesses
Littlehawk Blackburn was first witness to take the stand, confirming the narrative of Marcela’s early life related by attorneys in opening statements.
He testified that when he left for Colorado, he gave Ruby Blackburn explicit instructions not to return Marcela to Macalia Blackburn because she was living with Yellowbear again.
“Either one by themselves was fine, but not together,” he said.
Attorneys did not ask him to explain what he meant by that statement, nor why he had concerns.
Blackburn stated that when Marcela was returned to her parents against his wishes at the end of May, she was in good health with no physical injuries.
Also testifying Friday was former Riverton Memorial Hospital emergency room nurse Robin Walker, who with noticeable emotional difficulty went through a series of photos she had helped police take at the hospital the night Marcela died.
Arrival at hospital
Walker recalled that when Macalia Blackburn brought Marcela to the hospital and nurse Kathy Swan carried her into the emergency room, “I immediately knew the baby had been beaten. You could just see it in her face.”
She described in further detail the injuries she had found, including unusual bumps and soft spots on the baby’s head, many sores and bruises of various ages, and areas that looked and smelled “rotten.” She also testified that bandages on Marcela’s right hand were not clean and did not seem to have been placed by medical professionals.
One of the documents introduced for exhibit by prosecutors was an
anatomical chart on which Walker had written down all of the injuries she saw on Marcela.
Around a blank anatomical figure of a child were many marks and lines leading to corresponding descriptions of the injuries. Also on the page was an anatomical figure of an adult, also with markings.
When Gist asked her why there were markings on the adult, she paused to collect her emotions. Through tears, she choked out: “Because I ran out of room on the baby’s.”
ER physician
Physician Bradley North, who was on duty at Riverton Memorial the night Marcela died, testified over defense counsel’s overruled objections, “This is the most severe case of child abuse I have ever witnessed.”
He described resuscitative efforts made in the hospital, and some of the signs that led he and physician Thomas Rangitsch to determine she could not be saved, including unusually dry eye membranes and pupils that did not respond to light.
He also testified that an ace bandage on her arm was not the type of bandage a doctor would have used to treat her broken upper arm, and that her right fingers appeared to have immersion burns under their bandages: burns possibly caused by dipping her hand in hot liquid.
Defense attorney Diane Lozano asked both Walker and North about infantigo, a superficial skin infection that she suggested might account for the sores on Marcela’s face.
North said that in his opinion, the marks around her lips could have been a severe case of infantigo, but other sores on her face were not consistent with the infection.
Witness testimony continues Monday at 8:30 a.m. in the Hot Springs County Courthouse.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Severe abuse perpetrated over the course of two months that culminated in the death of Marcela Hope Yellowbear began with the 22-month-old’s father forcing her to stand for hours on end in front of a television set in a cramped Riverton apartment. His motive?


I can’t wait until you die’
Searing testimony heard Monday at Yellowbear trial

His motive?
He didn’t believe the child was
his.

Wyoming legislature commits an anti-child act in broad daylight
By Jordan Riak
March 14, 2002

Linked below are letters to Wyoming Governor Geringer from Eric Kanter, M.D., Charles F. Johnson, M.D., Jordan Riak, Jeff Charles, Jimmy Dunne, Mary Lansing, Benny Wasserman, Theo Wells, Eric Perlin, Connie L. Perry, Ph.D., Christa Hargraves, Chris Dugan, Misty Melvin, Wally Phillips, Laurie A. Couture, M.Ed.

Also see a letter of criticism to Jordan Riak from Wyoming Representative Ann Robinson and Riak's reply.


With more than 3 million children reported abused or neglected each year, the U.S. ranks among the worst societies in this regard. While other advanced nations actively promote healthful child rearing practices, and give children the normal protection under law that every other class of citizen takes for granted, the United States seems stuck in an earlier era when children were chattles and loved best when out of sight. It takes a gruesome multiple murder of babies like the Yates case to get our attention, to prompt us to think, if only briefly, about the awful vulnerability of children. But from the moment the perpetrator has been found guilty and sentenced, we feel absolved of any further responsibility for children. No need to inform ourselves about the root causes of the killer's behavior so that we can take steps to prevent recurrences. No need to ask how she was mistreated as a child so that we can learn how to protect others. If, when she was little, her innocence was pumped full of crazy theories about sin and damnation, and if she was whipped black and blue until she permanently lost the capacity to think or behave rationally, we insist this is none of our business. We look the other way. But now, grown up and having produced and destroyed a family of her own, this killer mom has caught our attention. But all we see is a lawbreaker, and for that we have the perfect solution. After all, you don't think we've been building and staffing all these fine new prisons for nothing, do you?

Speaking about solutions, let's look at Wyoming.

The legislature of Wyoming has just come up with a novel solution to the child abuse epidemic: Senate File 74 (Senate Enrolled Act 46). This law makes it okay for a parent to bruise a child. It lowers the standard of acceptable treatment of children to such an extent that unless a parent causes a child to be hospitalized, "abuse" hasn't occurred. In effect, the lawmakers have declared child abuse non-existent. George Orwell couldn't have foreseen this.

The day will come (sooner than they think) when the legislators of Wyoming will be old and frail, and their grown children will be looking after their needs. Let's hope, for the parents' sake, that their children's standard for 'reasonable' treatment of the elderly is a higher standard than the one Senate File 74 establishes for the treatment of the young. But don't count on it. Experience teaches that usually we get what we give -- in the parlance of computer programmers, "garbage in, garbage out." Senate File 74 is garbage legislation: it was created by child abusers for the protection of child abusers. Governor Geringer should have vetoed this dangerous and shameful legislation before it harmed somebody.



Message to Project NoSpank's list, March 16, 2002

Friends,
First, to readers who wrote to Wyoming Governor Geringer urging him to veto legislation that would legalize the bruising of children, thank you! Your letters are excellent. I plan add a few more of them to www.nospank.net/file74.htm shortly. They'll serve as a model and a spur to others who still haven't written. If bruising children becomes legal in Wyoming, and the consequences become apparent -- which inevitably they will -- the governor will bear the responsibility equally with the foolish authors. He won't be able to claim he didn't know. Your letters nullified that alibi. Some readers have written me to requested the exact wording of the legislation in question or a link to it. I apologize for not giving that information in the first place. Here is the relevant excerpt under heading "14-3-202 Definitions" See below. The new, especially slippery language is underlined. Following the excerpt is a link to the full text on the Wyoming government site.

ORIGINAL SENATE FILE NO. 0074
ENROLLED ACT NO. 46, SENATE
FIFTY-SIXTH LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WYOMING
2002 SPECIAL SESSION

***
(B) "Physical injury" means [death or]* any harm to a child including but not limited to disfigurement, impairment of any bodily organ, skin bruising if greater in magnitude than minor bruising associated with reasonable corporal punishment, bleeding, burns, fracture of any bone, subdural hematoma or substantial malnutrition;
***

* The words "death or" have been struck.

The complete text is at http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2002/enroll/sf0074.pdf

I will update www.nospank.net/file74.htm with the above information.
Jordan

Where to write:
Governor Geringer's e-mail: governor@missc.state.wy.us
Telephone: (307)235-3200, ask for the Governor's office
Casper Star-Tribune Letters to the Editor: letters@trib.com


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