Once again, Buffy Spencer of The Republican keeps us up to date on Haleigh.
SPRINGFIELD - The defense in the Haleigh Poutre child abuse case may now claim that a babysitter could have been responsible for the injuries which left the girl comatose with a severe brain injury three years ago.
The latest filings in the case of Haleigh's stepfather, Jason D. Strickland, of Westfield, state that defense lawyer Alan J. Black plans to call as a witness a Connecticut woman whose two children were allegedly abused by the same babysitter. The babysitter has not been charged with any wrongdoing.
Further details of the allegation were not provided in the documents filed by Black in Hampden Superior Court where Strickland, 32, is due to face trial in late October.
A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday to determine if the media will be banned from any court hearings in which Haleigh, now 14 and continuing treatment in a Boston rehabilitation hospital, will be called to testify. The prosecution has indicated they plan to call Haleigh as a witness in the case against Strickland on charges of abuse of the girl in 2005.
Strickland and his wife, Holli A. Strickland, Haleigh's adoptive mother, were accused in September 2005 of abusing Haleigh Poutre after the then 11-year-old Westfield girl was hospitalized. He has pleaded innocent to the charges. Within days of her arrest, Holli Strickland was dead, the victim, West Springfield police said, of gunshot wounds in a murder-suicide with her grandmother.
The case led to a major overhaul of the agency's oversight of child abuse and neglect proceedings.
Black, in the document filed Monday, stated he wants to call to the witness stand Stephanie L. Trent, a Connecticut woman whose two children were allegedly abused by babysitter Alicia Weiss.
Weiss was babysitting Haleigh the day the girl was taken to the hospital Sept. 11, 2005, according to her testimony during a Dec. 2, 2005, hearing in Westfield District Court. During the hearing, which determined that there was enough evidence to send the case to the grand jury for possible indictment of Jason Strickland, Weiss said she had seen the parents abuse the girl.
Weiss testified that on Sept. 11, 2005, Haleigh was apparently sleeping when she arrived and was unresponsive two hours later when her mother tried to wake her.
Black said in his filing, "It may be the defendant's contention that Alicia Weiss could have been the person who physically abused Haleigh Poutre and caused the injuries."
Weiss could not be reached for comment.
When Haleigh was hospitalized she was emaciated, with new and old cuts and bruises, broken teeth, a swollen left eye, swollen knees, and scars among other injuries, according to Rebecca Blanchard, a nurse at Baystate Medical Center where Haleigh was taken after her initial trip to Noble Hospital in Westfield. Blanchard testified to the extent of the injuries during the December 2005 hearing in Westfield District Court.
Weiss testified during that hearing that she lived next door to the Strickland home in Westfield, was a longtime babysitter for the family, and had seen Holli and Jason Strickland hit Haleigh on different occasions.
Weiss testified that she saw Holli Strickland kick Haleigh down the stairs three times in a row as a form of discipline and beat the girl's legs with a baseball bat for allegedly stockpiling food. Weiss testified she saw Jason Strickland hit Haleigh with an open hand on two occasions and once with a plastic wand-like device that may have been part of a toy.
Holli and Jason Strickland were charged as joint venture defendants in harming Haleigh. Under that theory, Jason Strickland could be guilty if a jury finds he failed to stop acts by Holli Strickland.
The competency hearing will immediately follow a hearing Wednesday on the request of the state Department of Children and Families to bar the media from any court appearances by Haleigh. The Republican has filed a motion opposing the state's request.
This letter is in response to the letter that questioned if Sarah Palin can fulfill her vice president duties, if elected and properly care for her Down syndrome son and her pregnant daughter.
First, her daughter is engaged to be married. Secondly, Sarah Palin is the governor of Alaska and will continue to be governor if not elected. Thirdly and most importantly, Sarah has a fine husband by her side and her parents. Her husband is an experienced father who helped raise four children before Trig was born.
I am the mother of a very medically involved special needs child. I am also the wage earner for my family.
My tender, compassionate husband who is very smart is an able and qualified caregiver to our child. He also does the shopping, cleaning and cooking for our household. Who says a man cannot be a great full-time parent?
Palin has an important job to do just like any man, but her husband and family can help her with this precious son.
Palin will be a friend to us with special needs children more than Barack Obama who consistency shows his disregard for life by voting pro-abortion and against the babies born alive act.
He also stated that the vote he regrets the most was to save the life of handicapped Terri Schiavo. This man has not proven that he values the life of my ventilator dependent handicapped daughter.
Our special needs children need help with medical expenses and therapy. We get this now and can raise our children. I truly fear an Obama-Biden administration where life is not sacred.
My vote in November will be for McCain-Palin for I am sure they will respect the dignity of every life especially my daughter's.