Thursday, February 21, 2008

Who Was Responsible For This Baby's Death?

I just read a story that aggravated me on so many levels. Perhaps you heard this story, as well. I guess it is a fairly old case, something that happened in 2005, but the court case is still going on.
It is the story of a thirteen-year-old girl named Ashley. Thirteen is an age where kids can have many different levels of maturity. According to her parents, Ashley was not a particularly mature thirteen-year-old, perhaps at least partially because of her ADHD, and partially because her parents were very protective of her. At the time that this happened, in January of 2005, Ashley had never even been allowed to spend the night at a friend's house. Her father, in particular, insisted that Ashley only spend the night at the homes of family members.
But when an acquaintance asked Ashley to spend a weekend as a mother;s helper, looking after a five-year-old and a nineteen-month-old, Ashley's parents agreed to let her go. Her mother convinced her father that the experience would be good for Ashley, especially since the initial plan was that Ashley wouldn't actually be in charge of the children. Her job would mostly be to play with the children and keep them busy while adults were still present. This was something Ashley's parents felt she could handle.
However, here's what really ended up happening. The two adults who had asked Ashley to spend the weekend... Morningstar Garden and her boyfriend, Gracian Cline... brought Ashley and the two children to a mostly empty house, which the couple owned but no longer lived in. The two adults spent most of the weekend in a bedroom with the door shut, coming out only to use the bathroom and get food. Ashley was left to entertain the two children, with nothing but a DVD player and TV, a little bit of food, and a few sleeping bags, on hand.
Nobody is exactly sure what happened throughout that weekend... but somehow, the nineteen-month-old baby Ashley was in charge of ended up dead. And Ashley ended up in juvenile detention, accused of murdering the baby.
In an incriminating videotaped interview, Ashley used a baby doll to show detectives how she had tried to give nineteen-month-old Freya a bath. When Freya struggled and cried, Ashley held the baby and "wiggled" her, saying, "Freya! Its just a bath! You have no reason to be crying!" Later, as Ashley had trouble getting Freya to go to sleep on the floor, she again "wiggled" Freya and said, "Freya! Stop it!" (You can view segments of this video here.)
When I viewed this video, it became apparent to me that Ashley really was very young for her age, didn't have the knowledge or experience to be caring for two young children all alone, and should never have been put in that position. But, to the detectives investigating the case, this was enough to charge Ashley with giving Freya Shaken Baby Syndrome.
But what about the adults in this story... the ones who told Ashley's parents that Ashley would just be a mother's helper, playing with children under the guidance of the responsible adults? To make matters worse, it soon became apparent that when Morningstar and her boyfriend were spending all that time in the bedroom with the door shut, they were drinking and using cocaine.
Eventually, the case against Ashley was dismissed, because detectives hadn't followed the correct procedures necessary for dealing with a juvenile. They had interviewed her without notifying her parents and without having her parents or a lawyer present.
Ashley is free now, but there are still many people who think she got off on a "technicality," and who talk about how horrible it was that little Freya was murdered by her babysitter.
In my mind, this was not a murder... it was a case of child neglect. Morningstar Garden was negligent when she chose to spend a weekend doing drugs behind a closed door, leaving three innocent and incapable children to take care of themselves.


HomeandHearth said...

I really can't believe anyone would blame Ashley. All I can see here is a tragic, terrible accident caused by two adults who had no business having *any* kids with them.


Anonymous said...

In my opinion the (obvious cokehead) mother and boyfriend did the kid in by accident in a fit of anger. The mom might have also offed her previous child who died under mysterious circumstances.

Anonymous said...

Does it bother anyone that she was also a wiccan! Lets see...mother of two dead children under suspicious circumstances,unattentive, coke addict, and a witch...yeah, I would say...blame the 13 year old...Cops...the new judicial system!!!
What is wrong with our world???

Anonymous said...

To say that this had anything to do with the mother being wiccan is absurd!! It shows your lack of knowledge about the kinds of people wiccans are. We are just as protective of our children as anyone else is. The so called mother of this poor child does not deserve the word mother. This woman, monster, whatever you want to call her, Morningstar needs to be held accountable for her own actions... I think she set Ashley up.... think about it, she told Ashley's parents that she would not be alone with the children, in fact Ashley was left alone for most of the time. Morningstar also led Ashley's parents to believe that there would be adult supervision at all times, and we know there wasn't. This mother and her boyfriend should be the ones charged with murder and her remaining child needs to be removed from her care ASAP!

Anonymous said...

I think Gracian Cline, the boyfriend was the one who did the crime. He and Morningstar had no right to be behind a closed door doing drugs and not paying attention to the children. Ashley's stepsister should have been there as well but I don't know why she wasn't. Freya was left alone with the 2 adults while Ashley and Madeline the 5 year old sister of Freya went to the movies. Anything could have happened during the 2 hours the girls were out of the house. Ashley only wiggled Freya and that alone wouldn't have hurt her. The blows Freya received were the equivilant of being thrown out of a building. Ashley was a thin little blond girl who was not very muscular and I think she did nothing wrong except be left in a situation with 2 young chidren.