Dad, aid workers convicted in starved girl's death

AP News
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Posted: Jul 15, 2011 6:12 PM
Dad, aid workers convicted in starved girl's death

The father of a disabled Philadelphia girl was convicted Friday of felony child endangerment for abandoning her with her unfit mother years before she died at age 14, weighing 42 pounds.

A Common Pleas Court jury Friday also convicted a social-services contractor of involuntary manslaughter, perjury and forgery in Danieal Kelly's death and a city social worker of perjury and reckless endangerment.

The girl's 2006 death in a squalid two-bedroom apartment led to a watershed grand jury investigation in Philadelphia and the ouster of two top city health care officials. In the years since, more than a dozen people have been convicted of state and federal charges, including nine people who worked for a contractor, Multi-Ethnic Behavioral Services.

The company, founded by defendant Mickal Kamuvaka, was paid $1 million to supervise the city's neediest families. Yet social workers rarely visited Andrea Kelly and her nine children.

Daniel Kelly, 40, faces up to seven years in prison for felony child endangerment. His lawyer wondered if the jury was influenced by anger over the recent acquittal of Florida mother Casey Anthony in her daughter's death.

"What happened in Florida may have had a negative impact up here," lawyer Earl Kauffman said. "I'm not back there with our jury. But it's not impossible."

Andrea Kelly is serving 20 to 40 years for third-degree murder.

Danieal (pronounced "Danielle") could not walk or talk, but had once thrived in the care of her father's live-in girlfriend in Arizona. But her father stopped bringing her to school _ where Danieal had received needed physical therapy and other services _ in the two years after they broke up, and eventually abandoned her with his ex-wife in Philadelphia. The girl went long stretches without going to school or seeing a doctor or social worker.

"He basically dumps the child in a place where he knows she's not going to be taken care of," Assistant District Attorney Ed McCann said of Daniel Kelly after the verdict.

The 258-page grand jury report his office issued in 2008 show photos of a younger Danieal smiling on a school trip and celebrating a birthday in Arizona. The report also shows a skeletal autopsy photo, when the girl was suffering from severe bed sores and maggot-infested wounds.

The grand jury found that Andrea Kelly not only refused to get her daughter food, water and medical care, she prevented her other children from helping their "obviously dying sister."

Kamuvaka, 62, is already serving a 17-year federal prison term for related fraud charges. Prosecutors say the Ph.D.-level administrator organized a "forgery fest" following Danieal's death to cover up the lack of visits to the Kellys and other high-need families. For a time, the company had an unpaid college intern assigned to the Kelly home. He did what he could, only to be followed by a social worker who regularly skipped visits, prosecutors said.

Kamuvaka now faces another 13 to 26 years in prison with her state convictions on all seven counts.

The jury clearly struggled with the involuntary manslaughter charge lodged against her, returning to the courtroom three times Friday to have the legal definition read aloud.

"She's maintained all along that she didn't kill anybody," defense lawyer Joshua Scarpello said. "Whatever happened, she did not intend, or foresee, that the girl was going to die. She's a decent person."

City social worker Dana Poindexter, 54, a former intake worker, faces eight to 16 years for his convictions for perjury, child endangerment and reckless endangerment. His lawyer said he may appeal.

The judge set sentencing for Sept. 6.

McCann, a top supervisor in the District Attorney's Office who's been on the Kelly case from the start, thanked police, prosecutors and the jury for paying attention to Danieal's life, if posthumously.

"Unfortunately, she wasn't paid attention to while she lived," he said.