Woman on Trial for Not Protecting Sons from Father’s Violence

It’s hard to know how any of us would react if we were witness to a violent act. knife1.jpg

Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers know people have a lot of theories about what they would do, perhaps even visions of how they would jump in and be the hero.

But the fact is, when someone carries out a brutal act right in front of you, even if it is against someone you love, you simply don’t know what you’ll do unless you’re in that situation.

And that is the core issue at the trial of a Deerfield Beach woman accused of doing nothing to protect her sons, who were stabbed by their father – one of them fatally – as she stood in the same room. Again, it is easy in hindsight to judge a woman and say that as a mother, she should have done more. But fear can paralyze a person, and that’s not something that should be overlooked in a situation like this.

The defendant is charged with child neglect and aggravated manslaughter in the death of her 9-year-old, autistic son. The boy’s 7-year-old brother, who was also stabbed by his father, took the stand to say that his mother had done nothing to intervene during the attack.

According to prosecutors, the defendant had a duty as a parent to protect her children, and she failed in that duty by not acting to stop her husband.

However, her attorneys have argued that the prosecution’s account is not entirely accurate. In fact, she reportedly suffered a number of wounds, including a punctured lung, which she sustained in trying to pull her husband away from her sons. Further, he said the husband’s actions were uncontrollable and completely unexpected.

The husband reportedly killed his son and one of the owners of the mobile home park where the father’s cousin lived, and where the homicides took place.

The older son reportedly still required diapers, and was not able to fight back the way his younger brother did.

The young boy testified that the day began normally, with his father insisting on taking the family to visit his cousin. Once at the cousin’s home, they visited and then the cousin left to buy diapers for the older boy. The family then ate a local fast food restaurant and checked into a nearby motel.

Then, the father began acting strangely. He forced his family back on the road, back to the cousin’s home. At that point, he attacked his sons.

The 7-year-old was able to get the knife away from his father, but his father was able to get it back before the boy could discard it.

The boy’s mother told police that she was stunned and felt helpless. He had stabbed her in the lungs, she said.

The charge of aggravated manslaughter of a child is defined in Florida Statute 782.07. It’s partially spelled out as when a person causes the death of someone under the age of 18 by culpable negligence, as defined in Florida Statute 827.03. This, in part, defines child neglect as an act of culpable negligence, or in this case, the failure of a caregiver to make a reasonable effort to protect a child from abuse by another person.

Aggravated manslaughter of a child is a first-degree felony, and as such, carries a possible sentence of life in prison.

If you are charged with a crime in Palm Beach or Broward counties, contact the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert, a Partnership of Former Prosecutors, for a free consultation to discuss your rights. Call 1.888.5.DEFEND.

Additional Resources:
‘She did nothing,’ son says of mom on trial in his brother’s death, Sept. 27, 2012, By Juan Ortega, Sun Sentinel

More Blog Entries:
Broward Child Neglect Often Stems from Temporary Judgment Lapse, Aug. 26, 2012, Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney Blog

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