Family Hopes Justice For Child Death


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Updated: 6/13/2011 11:27 pm Published: 6/13/2011 10:52 pm


A Tulsa family is still waiting for justice.

One year ago-today three-year-old Jace Burgess was rushed to the hospital and three days later he was taken off life support.

His mother’s then-boyfriend is accused of shaking Jace so hard is caused brain injuries that resulted in death.

Cody Sartin, 30, remains in the Tulsa County Jail awaiting trial on a First-Degree Murder charge.

FOX23’s Abbie Alford takes a look at children who die at the hands of someone other than a parent but left in the care of someone the parents trusted.

*All of the interviews were previously reported.

Jace Burgess, 3, of Tulsa died from blunt force trauma to the head, Christian Norris, 3, of Bartlesville died from a broken back caused by blunt for trauma.

"It was just... he was too young," says his mother’s friend Bandy Kast.  She was interviewed when Benton was arrested. "He was the sweetest little kid. It's just not fair."

Eight-year-old Rosalin Reynolds was found stabbed to death Northeast of Oklahoma City.

Her cousin James Daukei, Jr. is accused of her murder.

 “She was in bed; she was asleep. They took a life from me that I gave. I just want her around, I just want her back, I just want her back,” says Erma Daukei. She was interviewed after Daukei was arrested.

Seven-Year-old Aja Johnson was kidnapped and killed by her stepfather, Lester Hobbs.

"I don't want her death to go in vain,” said her father J.J. Johnson.

Two-year-old Kelsey Briggs was a child who lived her life of physical abuse. In 2005 she died from blunt force trauma to the stomach. Her stepfather, Michael Porter, is in prison for her death.

"Kelsey should not be dead. People should have listened. I am hoping her story will spare children in the future,” said her father Lance Briggs.

These are all children who died at the hands of men their mothers once trusted.

The most recent DHS report shows in 2009, 52 children died from abuse or neglect. The majority are children two years or young and the highest number involves head trauma.

In many of the abuse cases the perpetrator is the live-in boyfriend.

Jace’s mother, a nurse, took care of him after he was born from a mother addicted to meth. She eventually adopted the toddler.

His mother Leslie is out of the country but shares with FOX23’s Abbie Alford via Facebook

“…We know justice is coming soon. Although it's been a hard year we have comfort in knowing there will be Justice for Jace. I can't imagine anything worse than the loss of a child and thinking back to that entire week in the hospital and I still can't believe it really happened. We wake up each day expecting him to walk in the room or come running to us when we walk in the door. However, we know that will not happen. We know he is in a better place and while that brings us some comfort we still want him here with us. This year has taught me some unforgettable lessons. Lessons I learned the hard way. But the most important lesson I learned is how strong love is and how one little life and change you. Although Jace wasn't my birth son It felt as though he always was. I am forever grateful for his love. He taught me so much about myself in such a short time. I don't know why God chose to take him so early, but I know the reason He brought us together. He taught my entire family the meaning of the word love. We never knew what it really meant until he entered our lives. When Jace was healed from all his health problems from prematurity people said I saved his life. I always countered that with "I didn't save his life. He saved mine. He is more of a blessing to me than I could ever be to him". The name Jace means Healer and he was just that for my family and now for others through organ donation. Jace will always be the most important person to ever touch my life. His loss is still like it happened yesterday but I cling to the special memories we shared together.”

Sartin is being held without bond and his trial has been pushed back to October 3rd.

In 2006, the state passed Kelsey’s Law “The Child Protection Reform Act”, it gives DHS, other state agencies and judges more power to intervene on behalf of children in abusive homes.

If you suspect your child is being abused call authorities, child abuse experts recommend that you don’t pry for answers, rather leave that to trained authorities.

State law requires anyone who believes a child is being abused to report it to Oklahoma Department of Human Services.

A specialist from Child Abuse Network will help you through the reporting process and explain. You can call a child specialist at (918) 624-0200.

To report abuse you can call the Tulsa hotline at 918-584-1222, Oklahoma hotline (800) 522-3511, National hotline (800) 4CHILD (422-4453).


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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

disappointed - 6/14/2011 9:39 AM
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It is sad that any child is killed. The State of Oklahoma and the DHS system does not work and has not for a long time. All of these case were reported to DHS especially Kelsy Briggs if the proper steps were taken by DHS she would still be alive. Are these so called Social Workers held accountable for a childs death they are so called investigating? Do they keep their jobs after a death of a child they are investigating?
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