The father of a 4-year-old Ohio girl who was killed by her mother and her mother’s boyfriend last year is reportedly planning to sue the Department of Children and Families for their ignoring evidence of abuse before his daughter’s murder.
In a statement issued to WJW, Mickhal Garrett’s lawyer said he plans to file a lawsuit against the Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services for failing to take Aniya Day out of her mother’s Euclid residence after they were made aware of credible abuse allegations.
“As soon as significant evidence came in to the Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services, as it did in this case, and trauma is realized, whether that child should be immediately removed from the house and put in a protective facility or moved to another family member—these are all things Aniya’s father, Mickhal Garrett, is looking at, in terms of making the overall system better for all of the families in Cuyahoga County,” attorney Paul Grieco said in the statement.
News of the possible litigation comes days after the slain girl’s mother, Sierra Day, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Sierra’s boyfriend, Deonte Lewis, was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole in 20 years for his role in Aniya’s death.
Aniya died shortly after emergency crews found her unresponsive at her Euclid apartment on March 11. The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office listed Aniya’s cause of death as cerebral necrosis due to blunt impacts to the head and a subdural hematoma. Medics who responded to the Euclid home noted burns on Aniya in addition to a black eye, according to WKYC.
In October, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) released a 21-page report where they criticized Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services for rampant violations and failures in Aniya’s case.
ODJFS determined that DCF ignored at least two years of abuse involving Aniya and her mother. The report’s scope looked at the time between February 2017 through March 2018 and found that DCF was alerted to abuse on at least five instances, according to WEWS.
In February 2017, day care officials reportedly presented investigators with 14 documented reports of abuse—going as far back as September 2015. Officials found that DCFS didn’t add these instances to Aniya’s case file and didn’t take them into account when determining whether she should stay in her mother’s custody.
According to the report, it was also in February 2017 when a caseworker reportedly had a face-to-face meeting with the mother and determined that she and Aniya were “bonded” despite never seeing the pair interact. State officials noted that Aniya’s case was the first the caseworker managed without a mentor present.
During that encounter, which occurred at a hospital, Aniya reportedly said, “Mommy did it.” ODJFS wrote that social workers ignored her claims “due to the target child’s age and development” and claimed she couldn’t be interviewed, according to Cleveland.com.
WEWS reported that Garrett fought for custody of Aniya before her death and had informed the courts of possible abuse going on at the Euclid home. In December 2017, he sent a letter to Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court, where he claimed Sierra was keeping him from their daughter and said that relatives also believed she was being abused.
He reportedly wrote, “I truly, truly, truly feel as though our daughter is being abused at home physically/mentally and that her life could possibly be in danger.”
[Featured image: Aniya Day, Mickhal Garrett/WEWS]