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No. 32847 _ State of West Virginia ex rel. The West Virginia Department of Health and Human
Resources v. The Honorable Fred Fox, Judge of the Circuit Court of Marion
County; and Miranda M. and Charles M.
Maynard, Justice, dissenting:
the circuit court's decision to return Sean to his father Charles, I fear that
this Court has placed Sean in grave danger.
there is clear and convincing evidence that the father's conduct resulted in
the death of eight-month-old Dominic. It is significant that Dominic was found
to have symptoms consistent with shaken baby syndrome when he was
taken to the hospital. Qualified doctors from a prominent hospital within our
State found that Dominic's injuries were non-accidental. Furthermore, Child Protective
Service workers, who are trained in child abuse investigation and detection,
concluded that Dominic was the victim of physical abuse, and his father was the
most likely suspect.
to the physical evidence of abuse, the father's Alford Plea of guilt to involuntary
Manslaughter also indicates that he injured Dominic. I agree with the West Virginia
Department of Health and Human Resources that eight-year-old child Sean has no
place in a home with a father who pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter in
death of his own son. Even though Charles did not technically admit guilt in
the plea, the trial court found that the record in this case supports
the conclusion that there is a significant probability that a jury would convict
this defendant of the charge contained in the indictment in this case. This
indicates to me that the evidence is strong enough to convince a jury beyond
a reasonable doubt that Charles is responsible for the death of his son. Moreover,
it does not seem logical that a loving father would plead guilty and be forever
labeled a child killer if he bore no responsibility for Dominic's death. The
burden of the stigma that will now follow Charles for life significantly outweighs
the burden of any trial that he would have faced.
this compelling evidence, I firmly believe that Sean should never be returned
to his father. No child should have to suffer the brutal injuries endured by
Dominic. Head trauma of this magnitude caused Dominic more pain than most adults
will experience in their lifetime. Then, after an unsuccessful surgery, Dominic
died after his life support was removed. In my estimation, returning Sean to
his father offers too great a risk that Sean may suffer the same fate as his
younger brother. Accordingly, I must dissent to the majority opinion.