Grand Jury indicts 9 in teen's death - Philadelphia news

July 31, 2008 4:57:49 PM PDT
The parents of a disabled teen who authorities say wasted away from neglect before dying at 42 pounds were charged Thursday in her starvation death, as were two city employees assigned to monitor the girl's well-being.

Authorities also charged five other people who they say could have foreseen the horrific fate of Danieal Kelly, 14, whose emaciated body was found in her mother's squalid house covered with bone-deep, maggot-infested bedsores in August 2006.

In releasing in a 258-page grand jury report recommending the charges, District Attorney Lynne Abraham had scathing words for the city's Department of Human Services, calling the agency's handling of the case "callous, indifferent, unconscionable" - and all too familiar.

"Danieal did not fall through the cracks," Abraham said. "It was a failure of institutional inclination. Saving Danieal was just too much trouble."

Warrants were issued for all nine defendants Thursday. Andrea Kelly, the mother of Danieal (pronounced "Danielle"), was charged with murder, and father Daniel Kelly, who did not live with the family, was charged with child endangerment.

A listing for Andrea Kelly's attorney, Vincent Giusini, rang unanswered Thursday. It was not immediately clear if Daniel Kelly had an attorney.

The grand jury report describes an incomprehensible situation in which two DHS workers, two workers from a private social services agency and three of Andrea Kelly's friends either saw or were told of what was happening to Danieal, who had cerebral palsy, yet did nothing until after she died. That's when they scrambled to cover-up their inaction, authorities said.

The report should "outrage the entire Philadelphia community" and bring about "earth-shattering, cataclysmic changes" at the Department of Human Services, Abraham said.

Too many reports have repeatedly documented the same problems at the agency, which Abraham said has given only "lip service to halfhearted corrective action." At least 55 children have died under the agency's watch, she said.

"The DHS agency has been ... in total meltdown and free fall," Abraham said. "You can't continue to bury these children and say things are getting better when they're not."

Abraham stressed that the problems at DHS predate the current mayoral administration, which took office in January.

Department Human Services commissioner Anne Marie Ambrose scheduled an afternoon news conference to discuss the case.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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