So you're a Harris County Family Court Judge, and Children's Protective Services brings this case to you on October 19: There's a 20-month old girl with second-degree burns on her upper back and a first-degree burn on her right cheek. The burns are from about two weeks earlier. She's also got three marks to her back, which CPS tells you bear the sign of a belt. The mom's boyfriend had told CPS he had left a pot of boiling water on the stove, and while he was in the bathroom, the kid knocked it down on herself.
Mom wasn't home. She later told CPS the marks on the girl's back were from when she fell in the bathtub against the shower knob. The mom's boyfriend tells CPS the marks were from the 20-month-old falling off her "training bike."
Oh, and the kid's right thumb is broken. The doctor says it probably happened a week or two before the burns.
The girl has a five-year-old brother. His dad's in jail. A few assaults - one on a disabled person. Anyway, the boy tells the CPS caseworker he's accused of Mom's boyfriend, whom he calls CC. The boy tells the caseworker CC whips his sister and him with a belt.
Oh, and here's the boyfriend's record. Meet Carlton Robinson, 30:
Aggravated kidnapping (convicted; plead no contest; sentenced to ten years in TDCJ; released in 2002 or 2003) Unlawful carrying weapon (convicted; plead no contest; sentenced to 90 days Harris County Jail) Evading arrest or detention (convicted; plead guilty; sentenced to ten days in Harris County Jail)
Assault, causing bodily injury on a family member (disposition unknown)
Aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury (convicted; plead guilty; sentenced to eight months in Harris County Jail) Intent to give false identification (convicted; plead guilty; sentenced to 60 days in Harris County Jail)
Terroristic threat (convicted; plead guilty)
The kids are in the temporary custody of CPS, who tells you, the judge, that the kids should not be returned to mom's.
You're the judge. What do you do?
If you're Judge Jim York, you order the kids returned to Mom.
A month later, the 20-month-old girl is dead. The child's name was A'anya (pronounced "Ah-nigh-a") Cantley.
According to the affidavit of a CPS caseworker, the girl died sometime during the night of November 25 or early morning November 26.
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The affidavit states:
"I attended the autopsy of A'anya Cantley and the Harris County Medical Examiner found that she had countless bruises and scars, a broken rib, a lacerated liver, bruised bowels and massive internal bleeding. The injuries were inconsistent with [her mother's] account of what happened and the preliminary findings are that A'anya's death was determined to be a homicide."
The 25-year-old mother, Keeshauner Michelle Cantley, has been charged in capital murder. She is in Harris County Jail.
More on this to come. — Craig Malisow