Man charged with murder, Child Abuse in Midland toddler’s death
MIDLAND, MI – A Kalamazoo County man is charged with murder in connection with the death of a Midland toddler.
Damian A. Garrett, 23, of Augusta, on Friday, Sept. 20, appeared in Midland County District Court for arraignment on charges of first-degree murder and first-degree child abuse. Both are life offenses, with the former mandating no possible parole if convicted.
The arraigning judge denied granting Garrett bond.
Police had arrested Garrett in the early morning hours of Thursday, Sept. 19. Two days prior, at about 3:05 p.m., police responded to an apartment in the 5200 block of Hedgewood Drive for a report of a child not breathing. They arrived to find emergency medical responders in the process of rendering CPR to an unresponsive girl.
The 21-month-old girl, identified by Midland County Prosecutor J. Dee Brooks as Skylar N. Papple, was transported to Mid-Michigan Medical Center where staff pronounced her dead.
Garrett was in a dating relationship with the child’s mother, police have said.
Brooks said Skylar died due to drowning and also suffered some secondary head trauma. Garrett had been home alone with Skylar, giving her a bath, Brooks said.
At some point, he ran to neighbors’ homes seeking help, then flagged down a UPS driver, who called 911, Brooks said.
Garrett is to appear for a preliminary examination at 2 p.m. on Oct. 15.
2,246 fetal remains found in Illinois home
of abortion doctor
After Dr. Ulrich Klopfer died in rural Crete, Illinois, on Sept. 3, authorities found “2,246 medically preserved fetal remains” in his home.
Klopfer performed thousands of abortions in northern Indiana clinics before his medical license was revoked in 2016. But it’s unclear where the fetal remains came from, though the Will County, Illinois, Sheriff’s office said in a news release there was no evidence that Klopfer performed abortions on his Illinois property.
Public records show that Klopfer had not been licensed to practice medicine in Illinois since 1990, when he failed to renew his license. Records do not show Klopfer holding any other state’s medical license after the Indiana suspension.
Authorities are not saying if they think Klopfer, 79, transported the remains from Indiana, how the fetal remains had been preserved or why the remains may have been in his possession in the first place.
Kathy Hoffmeyer, Will County, Ill., Sheriff’s spokeswoman, on Monday called this a sensitive investigation and declined to release details.
Indiana records allege the doctor, first licensed in 1979, had a history of bad record keeping in his clinics.
According to a complaint filed by the Indiana Medical Licensing Board, Klopfer worked in clinics in South Bend, Gary and Fort Wayne from 2012 to 2015.
The board in 2016 found that Klopfer failed to properly file paperwork regarding abortions performed at the clinics, including some that were dated the same day as the procedure, a violation of Indiana’s 18-hour waiting period.
The licensing board found he performed abortions on two 13-year-olds without filing paperwork within three days as required by law.
The allegations regarding the 13-year-olds led to misdemeanor criminal charges in two counties, which Klopfer was facing at the same time he fought to keep his medical license, records show.
He was charged with failing to timely file a public report and admitted wrongdoing in St. Joseph County in 2014 and Lake County in 2015, according to the licensing board’s complaint. Under terms of the pretrial diversion agreements, the misdemeanor charges were later dismissed.
None of the Indiana allegations against Klopfer were related to fetal remains. How such remains ended up on Klopfer’s property are a mystery.
In the news release, the sheriff’s office said a lawyer for the Klopfer family first told officials about the discovery of the fetal remains. IndyStar left a message on Monday for the attorney, identified by WMAQ-TV (Channel 5) Chicago as Kevin P. Bolger.
Klopfer’s family had no idea the fetal remains were inside the doctor’s rural home, Bolger told WMAQ on Saturday.
“No one has any answers,” Bolger told the station. “The family is cooperating 100%.”
Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill told IndyStar on Monday that the discovery of the fetal remains “shocks the conscience.” Hill said his office will work with the office of Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul on an investigation into the “grisly” findings.
Recalled Sleepers Linked To Infant Deaths Are Still Being Used in Daycare Centers
Earlier this year, Fischer-Price issued a recall of nearly five million Rock ‘n Play sleepers after the popular product was linked to at least 30 infant deaths. Not long after, Kids II recalled 700,000 of its own inclined sleepers due to similar concerns.
Several months later, one mom was shocked to find that these dangerous sleepers are still being used in some daycare centers, which could be putting their kids at risk.
Sarah Landis, a mom from Philadelphia, told Consumer Reports that in June, she came to her one-year-old son’s daycare and discovered that a Rock ‘n Play Sleeper was in the infant facility room. Landis told her husband, Adam Garber, who works in product safety. Garber gave the daycare a call to see if they were aware of the recall.
“Our daycare provider, who cares deeply about the kids, was really confused,” says Garber. “She said she thought there had only been a warning about the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper and that as long as the product was properly used, and babies were buckled in, it would be fine.”
Garber informed the daycare director that a full recall had been issued, something that the director says they were never informed about the extent of the recall and so they believed they were not putting children in danger by keeping theirs. William Wallace, the manager of home and safety policy for Consumer Reports, says that this can be common if companies give mixed messaging about a recall.
“Recalls don’t work well unless people get a clear and consistent message. And they especially don’t work well if manufacturers and the government fail to fully warn people about the risks of a product,” Wallace explained.
Fortunately, in this case, no infants were harmed as a result of the sleeper but considering the popularity of these products, it’s hard to imagine that there aren’t still daycare centers that are unknowingly using a product that has been proven to be dangerous.
What can you do if you are a parent who is unsure if your kid’s daycare is using one of these items? Garber says the most effective thing you can do is reach out.
“One of the things we’re telling folks is to just go in and ask what the center’s plan is to check for and remove recalled products—and then ask about specific products,” Garber says.
Ben Hoffman, M.D., chairperson of the American Academy of Pediatric’s Council on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention’s executive committee, agrees, adding that the safest thing for parents is to ensure that no inclined sleepers are being used.
“I would encourage parents to talk to day care providers and make sure their babies are put to sleep in a safe way, and not in a recalled product—but ideally not in any inclined sleeper,” Hoffman says.
Man charged with fatal Child Abuse of
ESSEX, MD – A man has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend’s 2-year-old son in Maryland.
Baltimore County police said they received a call on June 29 for a cardiac arrest in Essex, Maryland. The caller, identified as David Marvin Hass Jr., 34, was babysitting his girlfriend’s son and 5-year-old daughter while she was working when the child stopped breathing, police said.
The boy, identified in a probable cause statement as Damien Landrum, was taken to MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center where he was pronounced dead a half hour after arriving.
Hospital investigators noticed the child had multiple bruises on his face, arm, stomach and back, the probable cause statement said. Due to the age and injuries observed on the child, the Baltimore County Police Homicide Unit was asked to investigate.
According to the probable cause statement, Haas told investigators that the boy had “pooped himself,” and that he placed the child in the shower. Haas told investigators that he was gone for approximately 4-5 minutes, and when he returned, he found the boy face down in the tub, not breathing, the statement said.
An autopsy returned to police on July 8 revealed the boy’s bowels were torn and his pancreas was split in two pieces from the force used to inflict the injuries, that statement said. The cause and manner of death was determined to be multiple injuries and homicide.
Homicide Unit detectives determined that the injuries the boy suffered were inconsistent with the account of events given to police by Haas.
Haas was arrested Tuesday and is charged with first-degree child abuse resulting in death and first-degree murder. He is held without bond at the Baltimore County Detention Center pending trial.
Texas House approves bill penalizing
doctors who fail to care for infants born
I hope no one reading this is easily deceived, contrary to what Democratic Rep. Donna Howard (who has a background as a nurse) says here, far too many members of the medical community takes it upon themselves to pick and choose who will live and who will die, and quiet obviously the oath these people once took has faded into a Hypocrite’s Oath.
AUSTIN, TX – After a tense moment, Texas House members gave preliminary approval to legislation imposing a six-figure fine and possible prison time on any physician who fails to care for an infant born alive after an abortion.
The bill, from Rep. Jeff Leach of Plano, prevailed Tuesday evening after Austin Democratic Rep. Donna Howard stressed that there’s no record of post-abortion births in Texas and infanticide is already illegal.
Members divided mostly along party lines, by 93-1, to advance the “Born Alive” act, which also would impose prison time in cases of gross negligence.
But 12 Democrats, including Dallas Rep. John Turner and others mostly from Catholic-rich South Texas, joined all but two Republicans in voting for the measure. GOP Rep. Sarah Davis of Houston, filling in at the time for House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, was marked “PC,” presiding chair. Bonnen didn’t vote, as is common practice by a speaker.
Houston Democrat Harold Dutton cast the “no” vote while 50 Democrats voted “present, not voting” at the urging of Howard, who criticized the “blatantly false, inflammatory and dangerous” proposal as a political box to be checked on legislative scorecards kept by influential GOP groups. They included Rep. Victoria Neave, D-Dallas, who was earlier part of a brief March boycott of the Leach-led committee hearing on the proposal.
Turner said after the vote that he didn’t view the bill as being about reproductive rights. It “addresses an extremely rare circumstance,” he said. Turner said while running for office last fall that he would not vote for any legislation that would further restrict abortion access.
Texas is one of 26 states with laws requiring physicians to provide medical care and treatment to born-alive infants at any stage of development, according to Americans United for Life. But Leach told colleagues his measure adds a vital enforcement element.
Leach said enforcement “teeth” still are needed.
“It’s a good strong law,” he said. “But I don’t believe that it goes far enough.”
Leach said House members had an opportunity to unite across party lines “and as much as the issue of abortion has historically divided this country, this state and even this body at times, to me there should be no debate on this issue.”
Howard, the sole Democrat to engage with Leach before the vote, responded that Leach’s proposal didn’t merit debate.
She said the proposal is likely to further stigmatize women’s health decisions while imposing more trauma for families faced with the tragedy of a fetus with severe abnormalities.
“To debate this bill or to try to amend it would legitimize its false narrative,” Howard said. “The misinformation perpetuated by this bill is dangerous and is the exact type of rhetoric that leads to threats against providers. We refuse to waste the limited time that we have here to take care of the people’s business by entertaining malicious and purely political attacks against women and doctor.”
Noting her background as a nurse, Howard told the House: “I am insulted. I am insulted by the implication that I or any other nurse or doctor … would not do any and every thing in our power to provide care to any medically stressed human being.” She added that no legislator, “not one,” supports infanticide.
Leach said he wouldn’t try to refute Howard’s individual critiques.
“This legislation is about protecting innocent life, a baby who is born alive,” he said before calling for the vote.
Passage of a “Born Alive” proposal into law — among three abortion-related priorities declared by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — seems likely under GOP Gov. Greg Abbott. A Senate-approved version differs only in its penalties.
Nationally, anti-abortion advocates have noted mild momentum for such measures. Bills have gained ground but not yet passed into law this year in Missouri, Montana and North Carolina partly in reaction to events in New York and Virginia–states mentioned by Leach–and a stymied Republican move in Congress.
Well before Tuesday’s vote, nearly every one of the House’s 83 Republicans had signed on to Leach’s legislation. Sitting out: Rep. Tom Craddick of Midland, the former House speaker, who said he rarely co-sponsors bills, and Davis, who has advocated for abortion rights. Speaker Bonnen also wasn’t a co-sponsor though his brother, Friendswood Rep. Greg Bonnen, was among four joint authors.
Under the House plan, the state attorney general could sue a physician who fails to treat a live infant to recover a fine of at least $100,000. Leach’s bill also permits a third-degree felony charge, potentially leading to imprisonment for two years to 10 years, if a doctor shows “gross negligence.” The Senate-passed “Born Alive” measure calls for the same fine and a third-degree felony charge without requiring a determination of gross negligence. Neither proposal would penalize patients.
No Texas infants born alive?
According to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, there were no reports of infants born alive in the state after abortion procedures from 2013 through 2016, the latest year of available figures. Over the four years, more than 219,000 abortions were provided in the state, the agency says.
However, government-collected figures suggest that 25 babies were born alive during abortion procedures in 2017 in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota, according to the Charlotte Lozier Institute, the research arm of the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List.
Established Texas laws
Lawmakers in 1979 revised state law to give a child born alive after an abortion or premature birth the rights of a child born after a normal gestation. Later, the 1995 Legislature, under Gov. George W. Bush’s signature, gave rights to any person born alive. As president, Bush in 2002 signed into law a measure similarly stating: “A living human child born alive after an abortion or premature birth is entitled to the same rights, powers, and privileges as are granted by the laws of this state to any other child born alive after the normal gestation period.”
Before the House action, Drucilla Tigner, a strategist for the Texas ACLU, told a House panel chaired by Leach that his “Born Alive” measure isn’t needed because state and federal laws already outlaw murder, protecting people regardless of age. Lawmakers passing the legislation, Tigner said in an email, “would at best be redundant and at worst it will distort public perception of safe, legal abortion care and unfairly target those who provide it in order to restrict access.”
Among objectors, Austin physician Karen Swenson, speaking on behalf of the Texas chapter of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said in written testimony that the idea “that physicians deliver, and then kill or neglect treating, a viable fetus is unfounded and dangerous misinformation.”
Leach and other committee members also heard testimony by three women who each said she was born after an abortion procedure — one of whom said she was born during the botched abortion. Leach introduced one of them to House members. Claire Culwell of Pflugerville was in the House gallery.
A national spark
In January, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, signed into law a proposal described by abortion rights advocates as aligning state law with what federal courts have permitted since the Supreme Court legalized a woman’s right to choose an abortion in 1973. The revised law permits an abortion at any stage of pregnancy if there is an absence of fetal viability. Previously, women in New York could only get abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy if their lives were threatened, the fact-checking PolitiFact project reported.
In Virginia, legislators took testimony on a proposal to remove abortion-related restrictions, including a requirement that three physicians sign off on an abortion in the third trimester. Elizabeth Nash of the non-partisan Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights, said in an email that the Virginia bill would newly have enabled a single physician to determine an abortion is necessary to protect the woman’s life or if there’s a severe health condition.
Nash wrote: “The New York bill was really about changing their law to match up with U.S. Supreme Court decisions. And the Virginia law was about getting care to patients in pretty serious situations a little faster since you wouldn’t have to track down two other physicians. The political firestorm around these efforts is a far cry from the actual measures, and it’s really about manufacturing outrage over abortion generally,” Nash commented.
Meantime, conservatives in the U.S. Senate in February tried to pass legislation threatening prison for doctors failing to save infants born alive after abortion procedures. Democrats blocked the measure, the Associated Press then reported.