KENTUCKY’S ADOPTION HALL OF SHAME: IN LOVING MEMORY OF AMY DYE, AGE 9


 KENTUCKY’S ADOPTION HALL OF SHAME:

IN LOVING MEMORY OF AMY DYE,

AGE 9

http://www.reformtalk.net/2011/11/08/how-could-you-hall-of-shame-amy-dye-case-updated-child-death/

How Could You?

Hall of Shame-Amy Dye Case

UPDATED-Child Death

By on 11-08-2011 in Abuse in adoption, Abuse in foster care, Amythz “Amy” Dye, Garret Dye, How could you? Hall of Shame, Kentucky, Kimberly Dye, Kinship Adoption, Washington

How Could You? Hall of Shame-Amy Dye Case UPDATED-Child Death

This will be an archive of heinous actions by those involved in child welfare, foster care and adoption. We forewarn you that these are deeply disturbing stories that may involve sex abuse, murder, kidnapping and other horrendous actions.
From Todd County, Kentucky, it was finally revealed on November 7, 2011 that 9-year-old adoptee Amythz “Amy” Dye was killed on February 4, 2011 by Garrett Dye, 17, Amy’s adoptive brother. Amy was adopted from foster care into this house of horrors.

Garrett “pleaded guilty Oct. 21 [2011] in Todd Circuit Court to murdering her on Feb. 4 by beating her in the head with a jack handle. At the time, she was outside on a cold, snowy evening shoveling gravel as punishment for stealing pudding and juice from a friend’s lunch box at school,” according to Courier-Journal. Garrett, prosecuted as an adult, will be sentenced on November 23, 2011. The Lexington Herald-Leader reports “The recommended sentence is 50 years.” “Guiling said the teen offered no explanation for killing the vivacious 9-year-old, saying “I just don’t know, sir,” when the judge asked him why he did it.”

The Courier-Journal reports “A Franklin Circuit Court judge blasted state officials Monday for ignoring suspected prior abuse of a 9-year-old Western Kentucky girl beaten to death by her adoptive brother, saying they turned a “blind eye” to repeated reports of her horrific mistreatment.

In his second such order in four days, Judge Phillip Shepherd ordered the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to release records of child abuse death investigations.”

“Shepherd’s ruling comes after The Todd County Standard sought records from the cabinet about reports of suspected abuse or neglect involving Amy. The cabinet refused to provide the records to the newspaper, initially claiming it had none; but then, after acknowledging it did have records, it claimed they were exempt from open records law.”

We reported in one of our first posts and in detail in March (with an update in August) that Kentucky is known for routinely denying public access to information about abuse and death in the foster care system. Both major newspapers have filed suits to gain access via the Open Records Act about 44 child abuse cases or deaths in foster care that occurred in the past few years.

The Courier-Journal reports “The order notes cabinet officials had approved Amy’s adoptive home in

Todd County, with Kimberly Dye, after removing her from her birth parents because of “severe neglect and sexual abuse.”

“An innocent, nine-year-old girl was brutally beaten to death after enduring months of physical and emotional abuse in a home approved by the Commonwealth of Kentucky for her adoption,” Shepherd wrote.

Cabinet officials received the order Monday and are reviewing it, said spokeswoman Jill Midkiff.

Amy’s Adoptive Mother Kimberly and Trail of Abuse and Neglect

“After Amy’s death, police found the girl’s clothes in a dresser in a trailer outside the house, Shepherd’s order said. It said Amy sometimes soiled her clothes because of poor bowel control, and when she did, her adoptive mother — as punishment — forced her to go outside for clean clothes.”

“In the five years before Amy’s death, reports of suspected abuse or neglect “flooded in,” starting the year after she was adopted by Kimberly Dye, Shepherd’s order said. Some of the reports came from school officials, including a school nurse, and some said she was being beaten by other children in the home. Yet state social workers performed cursory inquiries and took no action, his order said.”

Kimberly Dye, who shared the home with her ex-husband, Christopher, could not be reached for comment. The family’s phone has been disconnected.

In another case, the cabinet got a report from a school nurse that the girl had a thumbprint on her face. Amythz said one of her brothers had done it, but that Dye had said she would spank the girl if she told anyone, the nurse reported.

The cabinet took no action to protect the girl despite the reports, despite knowing she was in a home with an adult it had said abused another child, despite knowing one of her adoptive brothers had drug problems and had been caught taking a gun to school, the ruling said.”

Judge: Social workers ignored reports of abuse before slaying of 9-year-old
[Lexington Herald-Leader 11/7/11 by Bill Estep]

Update: “It seemed like a storybook ending to a troubled life: 5-year-old Amy Dye, removed from her Washington home two years earlier and shuffled among relatives and foster care, had a chance for adoption by a relative in Kentucky.

The reports cited by Shepherd included a May 2, 2007, letter from a school nurse detailing six separate reports she made of suspected abuse to Amy. The nurse reported injuries such as severe bruises, thumbprints on the girl’s face and scraped and peeling skin.

The nurse said Amy told her she had been hurt by another child in the home and her mother threatened to spank her if she told anyone. Amy then lived with two adoptive brothers, Garrett Dye, and an older brother not identified in Shepherd’s order.

The order said most of the abuse allegations involved the older brother, not Garrett Dye.

The cabinet dismissed the complaints as “child against child” altercations or accepted Kimberly Dye’s explanation that Amy fell or that the girl “bruises easily and plays rough with her brothers,” the order said.

“It is stunning to believe that the cabinet will refuse to protect a child from repeated acts of physical violence when the parent knows of and tolerates such abuse and does nothing to prevent it,” Shepherd’s order said. “Yet that is exactly what happened here.”

State blasted on Western Kentucky girl’s slaying
[Courier-Jounral 11/7/11 by Deborah Yetter]

had approved the little girl’s adoption even though it had substantiated an earlier case of abuse in the home, according to Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip J. Shepherd.”

It also reveals the relationship of Amy to Kimberly. “The girl was Dye’s great-niece. Dye had two sons who were 10 years older and eight years older than Amythz. She was divorced, but her ex-husband, Christopher, moved back in at some point.

The cabinet had substantiated that Christopher Dye physically abused one of his sons in 2003.”

Specifics of abuse are revealed: “Shepherd said the cabinet received at least eight (8) reports from credible sources of suspected abuse to Amythz. Those included reports that one of her brothers had, at various times, thrown her across a bed and kicked her, shot her in the arm with a BB gun, and hit her in the head with a shovel, the ruling said.

Cabinet employees called Kimberly Dye about the reports at times. In one case when an employee called to ask about reports of bruises on the girl’s face, Dye admitted telling the girl not to tell anyone, according to Shepherd’s ruling.

This article gives a clearer statement that some of the abuse Amy suffered occurred before Kimberly Dye adopted her, yet the adoption still went through. “The Cabinet for Health and Family Services

Her great-aunt, Kimberly Dye, asked to take Amy into her Todd County home, saying she had always wanted a daughter and that her greatest pleasure was to “bask in the joy of motherhood.

Her two sons, Kimberly Dye said, were excited about having a younger sister and had agreed to share a bedroom to give Amy her own room.

“We’re so happy you are going to be a part of our family,” Dye and her sons, Myles and Garrett, said in a 2006 letter to Amy.

That image was shattered earlier this year when 17-year-old Garrett killed Amy, a slender 9-year-old with caramel skin and bright blue eyes, beating her to death with a jack handle. Garrett, now 18, is awaiting sentencing Wednesday for murder.”

“As part of his order, Shepherd placed the entire cabinet file in the court record. It includes Amy’s adoption records, multiple reports of alleged abuse and the cabinet’s investigation after her death.

During her time with the Dyes, Amy repeatedly showed up at school with bumps, bruises and abrasions and was once briefly abandoned in a hotel parking lot for misbehaving, the records said. In the months before her death on Feb. 4, according to the records, she was forced to go outside in freezing weather to fetch clean clothes as punishment for incontinence.

At the same time, problems had mounted for Garrett Dye, who got in trouble for taking a gun to school and spent time in a state juvenile center in 2009 for a drug violation, the records said.

And though Kimberly Dye identified herself as divorced and a single mother when the cabinet investigated her home and approved Amy’s adoption, records show her ex-husband, Christopher Dye, later moved in and was active in the care and discipline of all three children.

This occurred despite the fact the state had found that Christopher Dye had beaten Garrett with a belt in 2003, Shepherd’s order noted.

“The files contain no indication the cabinet ever took notice of the fact that the same household in which (Amy) was reportedly being abused was the same household in which the cabinet had previously substantiated abuse,” Shepherd’s order said.

Cabinet officials have fought efforts to release records in the case first sought by the Todd County

Standard, the weekly newspaper in the Western Kentucky county near the Tennessee border.

Friday, cabinet spokeswoman Jill Midkiff said state social service officials work hard to protect children and that “It is a tragedy any time a child dies.”

“We support the work of our staff when they follow the law, even when tragic events happen that could not have been foreseen,” Midkiff said. “When staff does not follow the law, we take appropriate disciplinary action.”

Kimberly Dye, 46, could not be reached for comment. Christopher Dye, 41, said neither he nor Kimberly Dye wished to comment. Neither has been charged.

Todd Commonwealth’s Attorney Gail Guiling told the Todd County Standard that she is waiting for law enforcement to present results of any further investigation to her.

Amy’s paternal grandmother, Kris Richard, of Moses Lake, Wash., said she was horrified by news reports that Kentucky child-welfare officials had dismissed earlier allegations of mistreatment in the Dye home.

“I am so angry that any of this took place,” Richard said, adding that her poor health prevented her

from adopting Amy. “I’m sickened, just sickened by this whole thing.”

Amy’s Life

Born Amythz “Amy” Rayne Lewis in Portland, Ore., in 2001, Amy was premature and weighed less than 4 pounds at birth.

When she was 3, state authorities removed her from her mother, Sharmesha Muldrew, and placed her for a time with Kris Richard, whose son is Amy’s father, according to the adoption records.

Richard said her son suffered a brain injury before Amy’s birth and was not involved the child’s life or able to care for her. Richard said she wanted to adopt Amy but was advised against it by her physician because of her health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Muldrew, who lives near Portland, said in a phone interview that she was shocked by the circumstances of her daughter’s death and angry to learn that state officials knew of alleged abuse in the home earlier but did not remove Amy.

Records show Muldrew lost custody of Amy because of domestic violence in her home and agreed to have her rights to Amy terminated in 2005.

“They didn’t do nothing for her,” Muldrew said of Kentucky officials. “She slipped through the cracks.”

In addition to her stay with Richard, Amy went through several foster placements in Washington before Kimberly Dye, who is related through Amy’s father, offered to adopt her, according to records.

Washington child-welfare officials enlisted Kentucky officials to check out the Dye home and oversee Amy’s stay as a foster child, as well as her eventual adoption.

Records show Kimberly Dye received $551.60 per month from the state as an “adoption subsidy” for taking Amy.

At the time of the adoption, Kimberly Dye, then divorced, was a single mother living in Trenton, Ky., with her two sons. She told Kentucky officials she and her ex-husband had a good relationship but that he did not live in the home, the records said.

Christopher Dye was known to social service officials because of a 2003 incident before the divorce in which he was found to have abused Garrett — then 10 — by giving him “thirty licks” with a belt for misbehaving at school, according to the records.

School officials made a report to the cabinet after seeing bruises on the boy, the records said. The cabinet subsequently closed the case with no further action.

Kentucky officials approved Kimberly Dye as a foster-adoptive parent in July 2006, and Amy moved into the Dye home. The adoption became final on March 14, 2007, and the state closed its case on the family, the adoption records say.

That same month, the first report of suspected abuse of Amy came to the cabinet — one of a series reported by officials at her school, South Todd Elementary. In future months, the officials would report bumps, bruises and reports from Amy that her brothers had hurt her, the records show.

But social service officials either declined to investigate or declared the allegations unfounded, after Kimberly Dye told them that Amy was “clumsy,” fell frequently, bruised easily and sustained injuries when she “plays rough” with her brothers, according to the records.

She also told workers Amy lied and was an unreliable source, the records said.

Beaten to death

Teachers interviewed after Amy’s death described her as bright, with excellent grades and “no behavior problems at all,” the records said.

But on Feb. 4, the day she died, a teacher reported that Amy came to school upset because she had been caught taking juice and pudding from a friend’s lunchbox the previous day.


She said her parents were angry and had threatened to send her away from home, the records sai

“They stated they had never seen Amy so upset before,” the social worker’s report said.

That evening, Christopher Dye sent Amy and Garrett outside to shovel gravel as punishment, Amy for taking the food and her brother for driving his car without permission. Garrett Dye told police he became angry at the girl for chattering, the records said.

“The next thing he knew, he had hit Amy four times in the head with the jack handle, and she was laying on the ground,” according to a social worker’s interview with a state police detective.

According to the records, Garrett told police he dragged the body into some bushes and “ran inside the home and changed into clean clothes and hid his bloody clothes.”

When Amy didn’t return to the home that night, the Dyes reported her missing to police, who found her body after searching the property, according to the records. Garrett Dye was charged with Amy’s murder two days later.

In the months before her death, Christopher and Kimberly Dye had forced Amy to go outside in freezing weather to get clean clothes when she accidentally soiled herself because of bowel problems, according to records. After her death, police found all the d

rawers from her dresser containing her clothes outside on a trailer under a tarp, the records said.

The social worker’s report said Kimberly Dye reportedly was tired of Amy “pooping on herself” and said “if she was going to act like a dog, she would be treated like one,” according to the records.

The records also detail an incident last January in which Christopher Dye admitted that about a month before Amy’s death he took her to a hotel in Clarksville, Tenn., and left her alone in the parking lot to punish her for misbehavior.

“He thought this would be a good time to teach Amy a lesson,” the social worker’s report said.

Christopher Dye said he only left her for about a minute, then returned and found Amy “scared, upset and crying,” the records said. The records said he told Amy that if she didn’t improve her behavior, “this is what’s going to happen.”

That incident prompted Kentucky social service officials to substantiate a finding of child neglect against Christopher Dye for being an “inattentive caregiver” and using “unusual discipline.” Records show he was notified of the finding Aug. 11, six months after Amy’s death. State officials closed the case with no further action planned, the records said.

Richard, Amy’s grandmother, said she is haunted by thoughts of “what that poor baby went through.”

And she said she still has this question: “What’s going to happen to the state of Kentucky?”

The brutal death of Amy Dye: Kentucky social workers ignored months of abuse, records show
[Louisville Courier-Journal 11/19/11 ]

“Garrett Dye will spend 50 years in prison for killing his adopted sister, Todd Circuit Judge Tyler Gill announced this morning.

On his attorney’s advice, Dye, 18, turned down his chances to speak on his own behalf and enter a written statement in his pre-sentencing investigation. His attorney, Dennis Ritchie, also declined to make any presentation. Ritchie plans to appeal the case with the Kentucky Supreme Court, and any statements they made might hurt their case, Ritchie said.”
Garrett Dye receives 50-year sentence
[Kentucky New Era 11/23/11 by Nick Tabor]

Commentary: “The Lexington Courier-Journal reported in late November that 18- year- old Garrett Dye was sentenced to 50 years for the murder of his adopted sister, Amy Dye, who was 9- years-old. Amy was removed from her mother in Washington state at the age of three. For two years she was

Update 2: Garrett Dye sentenced to the recommended 50 years in prison.

shuffled between foster homes and relatives. Finally, at the age of five, her great aunt petitioned to adopt her, a seemingly happy ending to her ordeal. She came to Kentucky first as a foster child, into a home approved by state authorities, and then as an adopted daughter. The aunt received $550.60 a month to support the adoption.

What the state failed to do was verify that her new home would be a safe one. As is too often the case government workers did a shoddy job of keeping her safe. Across the nation kids under state protection, both in foster care and in cases of abuse that involve families, are at great risk of harm. In Amy’s case the warning signs were evident early on. Reports by school officials of suspected abuse were sent to the agency that is charged with protecting kids in Kentucky, but they went unheeded or were dismissed. School officials gave notice that they suspected abuse within a month of Amy’s adoption, but nothing was done. The judge, Tyler Gill, labeled the state’s Cabinet of Health and Family Services a “dysfunctional institution.

Garrett, who was 17 at the time of the murder, had also been abused by his father at age 10. This was substantiated by the Cabinet, but no action was taken. The same abuser was living in the house when Amy was killed. Records show that the adoptive parents, Christopher and Kimberly Dye forced the girl to go outside in freezing weather because she soiled herself. The “mother”, according to state reports, was tired of the girl’s incontinence. Christopher Dye also admitted to abandoning the girl in a parking lot in order to teach her a lesson.

On the snowy night of February 4th when Amy was killed, she and Garrett were outside shoveling gravel as punishment for “misbehaving.” Garrett confessed to becoming angry at her and beating her with a pick handle. Both he, as a victim of confirmed abuse, and Amy, as a foster child and then as an adoptee were supposedly being protected by the state. The same state paid Kimberly Dye.

According to AdoptUSkids, nearly 500,000 kids in the United States are in foster care. These kids are more likely to have academic problems, behavioral issues, mental illness, sexually transmitted  diseases, and to suffer abuse. A 2009 report by the Center for Family Policy and Research estimated that 1,770 kids died from abuse and neglect that year.

An article in Enough of Us (www.enoughof.us) claims that in California only 2 percent of foster kids attend college. One fourth end up in jail within two years of reaching adulthood. One in five become homeless. Good statistics are hard to come by, but during my time in prison I talked with many inmates who had been through the foster care systems of various states.

One in particular, Billy, told awful tales of his experiences as a foster kid in Maryland. He and his siblings were separated when he was five or so. In his first foster home he became sick at the dinner table and vomited. The foster father forced him to eat what he had just thrown up. He suffered abuse and neglect until he was old enough to run away. Finally he was sent to a juvenile facility. In Georgia he got locked up at age 16 and served 20 years. Another friend, Tim, was sent to a “Christian” orphanage in Kentucky. He was also around five. After his mother died he and his brothers and sister were all sent there. He was crying in the courtyard and the head of the orphanage picked him up by the ankle and began whipping him with a leather strap until he began to bleed. He stopped crying. As a teen he went on a robbery spree to fuel his drug habit.

These two were representative of a lot of guys I knew. They were angry at the world. They were poorly socialized. They trusted few people. They had learned to protect themselves the hard way, and they were ready to hurt others in order to do it. They were determined to never be defenseless again.

I imagine that most kids who are adopted or are in foster care don’t suffer these kinds of extremity,
and I have known several people who were fine foster parents. The idea of foster care is that kids are safer away from their parents than they are with them. The truth is that this is often not true.

Sometimes even a bad situation with family is better than the unknowns of an overburdened system.

For Amy, and for Garrett too, it is too late. Amy’s so called mother told the social worker that she was tired of Amy “pooping herself,” and that “if she was going to act like a dog, she would be treated like one.” This same woman continued to live with a proven abuser and allowed him to discipline the children. Somehow this home was seen as suitable by the state of Kentucky.”

When a State Fails to Protect a Child
[Juvenile Justice Information Exchange 12/2/11 by John Lash]

Update 3: Memorial to Amy Dye

Editor’s Note: Newspapers have battled with state government for the past two years on behalf of the citizens of Kentucky. The fight is over the right of the people to examine whether the state has been negligent in protecting children under its care who died as the result of child abuse or neglect. The issue is government transparency and public accountability.

The face of this fight has become Amy Dye, a 9-year-old in Elkton, in Todd County

few of us knew. A year ago, Amy was viciously murdered by her brother, who is now in prison. After Amy’s death, her hometown newspaper, the Todd County Standard and editor Ryan Craig sought the state’s investigative records so people who knew Amy and her family could learn whether the state had sufficiently protected her.

The Louisville Courier-Journal and the Lexington Herald-Leader already were before Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd asking him to order the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to open its records in the case of the deaths or near-deaths of children under its protective care. The judge ordered the state to open its records. The state has appealed his decision on what information the cabinet can redact before records are released to the public.

No one should forget Judge Shepherd’s haunting words in his ruling opening the records of the cabinet’s investigation of Amy’s death. “This case presents a tragic example of the potentially deadly consequences of a child welfare system that has completely insulated itself from meaningful public scrutiny.”

In fact, the cabinet’s secrecy has obscured the fact that too many Kentucky children die every year (more than 270 between 2000-2009; the state had investigated reports of abuse or neglect in at least half of the cases before the child died. In one of those years, Kentucky led the nation in child abuse/neglect deaths with 41.)

The secrecy means citizens have no idea whether Kentucky has too few social workers, too little training for them, wrong procedures for identifying at-risk children, lack of support services for troubled homes, or contributing social and domestic issues that must be addressed.

The story of Amy’s death outraged a lot of Kentuckians, and already the state is making changes. The head of the cabinet and the commissioner over child protective services have resigned. The legislature has held hearings, and we have learned social workers have far too many cases to oversee. Gov. Steve Beshear has, despite the dire budget forecast, stopped cutting the cabinet’s budget and included $21 million more for social workers in his proposal for the coming fiscal biennium.

Journalists serve as watchdogs on behalf of citizens. That is what happened.

The heroes in this fight for government transparency and public accountability of the cabinet are Deborah Yetter, a reporter for the Courier-Journal who has persistently reported on the dire facts about at-risk children in this state; the newspapers who funded the efforts of their media lawyers to knock down the veil of secrecy, and Ryan Craig, a weekly newspaper editor in Todd County. It has been a fight waged in the name of Amy Dye and Kayden Branham, a toddler from Wayne County, and dozens of other children who died while under the protection of the state. It is a fight waged for the benefit of children who might yet be rescued if the state can protect them.

The following column, a letter to Amy Dye, was written on the anniversary of her death by Ryan Craig, the man who fought to find the truth, a newspaper editor, a husband and father of three children. It appeared originally in the Todd County Standard. — By Mike Farrell)

A Letter for Amy Dye: The world is a better place because of you

By Ryan Craig
Editor, Todd County Standard

Dear Amy:

We never met. Oh, I’m sure we were in the same building at your school at the same time or passed each other in the hall.

Still, though I didn’t know you then, I feel like I know you now.

I’m writing this letter on a warm, wet day, unlike the cold day you knew last Feb. 4.

It has been one year since …

Well, let me tell you a story. I was once at one of those church programs in Clarksville on Halloween where you walk through the building and they show you a bad thing that happened — this time it was a wreck — and then take you to room that looks like where the devil lives. It was a terrible, hot and dark place that seemed to take your breath away.

Then they take you across the hall and there is this beautiful garden and a small bridge across a little fake stream. It was cool. And I don’t know how they did it (it might have been because I just came from the other room), but I have never felt more comfortable in my life.

Then a man dressed like Jesus, and I knew it wasn’t Jesus, and I knew that everything in the room was there just to prove a point about the afterlife, but when it came my turn to hug the man dressed like Jesus, I hugged him so hard. It was like I had come home.

I wish I could ask you questions, Amy. I wish we could talk. I’d have so much to ask you about, but the first thing I would ask is, “How is the hug when you get there?”

I would also ask what it was like to go into the darkness. Were you scared? And how quick did the light come? How soon did you know that everything would be OK?

Amy, after you left us, there was a great disturbance back here. There was justice. There were questions asked in your name and the answers caused a shift all the way up to the governor of Kentucky.

A lot has been said and a lot has been done in your name. And maybe, with your help and the help of the one who gave you that welcoming hug, no harm will come to little girls and boys anymore. Oh, I know that is a lot to ask, but changing the hearts and minds of people had to start somewhere and it started with you, Amy.

It started with you.

You wouldn’t know this, but you have changed me. I took up something because of you that has caused some very important people to squirm mightily.

It has also caused a great number of people to look at what we can do about better protecting those who can’t protect themselves.

There was a great battle between the little newspaper in your hometown and the State of Kentucky, and eventually truth prevailed and we were able to put pressure on those who would not seek to help other boys and girls like you.

I’ve said this before, but a little girl (that’s you) from a little place went on to cause great things to happen, things that have never happened before.

Still, in the past year, I have often thought about you, Amy. I have thought about you when I see a great sunset. I thought about you when the spring came and the flowers bloomed and the birds really started to sing. I thought about you, Amy, when I saw children playing in the park. I thought about you when the leaves fell and the chill of fall came. I thought of you when I watched children try to build a snowman even though there wasn’t enough snow to make a decent one.

I thought of you then and many times more, but as much sadness that I have for you not being able to see or do such wonderful things again, I’m also happy that even without you here, the world is better because of you.

I’m also confident that all the confusion, all the fear, all the pain stopped and all things became new when you came to the garden and got your hug.

So, take care and thank you for treading softly across my old hard heart.

Your friend,

Ryan”
Remembering Amy Dye, a little girl, abused
and unprotected; her death will drive change

[Kentucky Forward 2/13/12]

REFORM Puzzle Pieces

Update 4: “Saying his confession was coerced, the Kentucky Supreme Court on Thursday overturned the conviction of a Kentucky teenager sentenced to 50 years for killing his adopted sister.

The state’s highest court ordered a new trial for 19-year-old Garrett Thomas Dye, who w

as convicted in 2011 of beating to death 9-year-old Amy Dye.

Dye’s case received statewide attention after court records revealed that child-welfare officials had ignored, or dismissed as unfounded, repeated reports of suspected abuse in the girl’s home. For youth advocates, Amy’s death has symbolized the failures of Kentucky’s child welfare system.

With all justices concurring, Justice Will T. Scott wrote in the order that police forced a confession from Dye by repeatedly telling him that he would be sentenced to death if he didn’t admit to killing his sister. Dye, who was 17 at the time, was not eligible for the death penalty because he was younger than 18.

The case now goes back to Todd County for a new trial. Additionally, the Supreme Court said the trial court must determine whether evidence seized after Dye’s coerced confession will be admissible at trial.

Todd County Commonwealth’s Attorney Gail Guiling did not return a phone call seeking comment. An attorney for Dye could not be located.

Records showed that Amy repeatedly showed up at school with bruises and abrasions and had once been briefly left alone in a hotel parking lot as a punishment. During the same time, the records show that Garrett Dye had gotten in trouble for taking a gun to school and spent time in a state juvenile center for a drug violation.

Amy’s body was found in the early hours of Feb. 5, 2011 after she was reported missing. She had last been seen in the driveway with Garrett Dye, where the two had been sent to shovel gravel as punishment. The girl’s body was found in a nearby thicket with blunt-force trauma to the head and face.

According to Thursday’s Supreme Court order, it was the next day that Garrett Dye, while being questioned by four officers, confessed that he’d murdered his sister. While his trial attorney tried to get his confession suppressed at trial, that motion was denied by Todd County Circuit Court Judge Tyler Gill.

Dye later pleaded guilty, but did not waive his right to appeal. He was sentenced to 50 years in prison for murder.

Dye’s appeal to the Supreme Court argued that his confession should not have been used against him because he was improperly questioned and denied counsel. The court agreed and cited several examples of Kentucky State Police officers using coercive tactics while questioning Dye.

Trooper Stu Recke, spokesman for Kentucky State Police Post 2, which handled the investigation, declined to comment on the court’s ruling. He said no officers were ever disciplined for their tactics in the case.

According to the court’s review, police repeatedly and incorrectly told Dye that he could be executed and after each reference told him that his only way to avoid that was to confess.

In one exchange cited in the court’s ruling, an officer told Dye: “I hate to see you at 17 years old go to the (penitentiary) for the rest of your life or spend the next 15 or 20 years of your life on death row. This is the only way you’re going to avoid that.”

The court ruled that “repeatedly threatening a 17-year-old with the death penalty is ‘objectively coercive.’”

Police also made references during Dye’s interrogation that he could be subject to prison violence because he’d murdered a young girl.

And the court ruled that the officers “continually dissuaded (Dye) from invoking his right to counsel.” The court said Dye did mention an attorney, but officers indicated he’d lose his chance to confess if an attorney was involved.

The court also said evidence seized following the confession could be suppressed as “fruit of the poisonous tree.” But since prosecutors argue that the evidence would have been discovered even without a confession, the Supreme Court said a trial judge must decide whether that evidence could be used during a second trial.”

 

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