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JADA JUSTICE - Aged 2 years - Indiana (USA)

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default Re: JADA JUSTICE - Aged 2 years - Indiana (USA)

Post  Twiglet on Thu Aug 19, 2010 1:30 am

Gary Post Tribune

10 August 2010

Castillo's demeanor changed, says FBI‎

Engelica Castillo shifted from meek and childlike to adversarial adult when an FBI agent interviewing her about the disappearance of Jada Justice challenged her on cell phone calls she'd made.

Agent Theodore May said Castillo stomped her foot and shook her head, her voice grew louder and became verbally confrontational when May showed her cell phone records that showed she'd lied about phone calls she made after reporting the 2-year-old Portage girl had been abducted from a Gary gas station on June 16, 2009.


http://www.post-trib.com/news/lake/2581010,new-castillo0810.article


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default Re: JADA JUSTICE - Aged 2 years - Indiana (USA)

Post  Twiglet on Thu Aug 19, 2010 1:33 am

Gary Post Tribune

11 August 2010

Jail tapes reveal defendant's role in toddler's death‎

Prosecutors played tape recordings in which Engelica Castillo, on trial for murder in the death of 2-year-old Jada Justice, and her then-boyfriend and co-defendant are talking about how police can't prove their involvement in the crime.

"They can't even prove that we did that," Castillo said.

Timothy Tkachik apparently had trouble hearing her while they were housed in separate cells in the Hobart police department lockup, so Castillo repeats herself several times.

"They cannot prove that. Am I right?" she asked from her cell, which was separated from Tkachik's by a brick wall that didn't extend to the ceiling.

"No," Tkachik responded.

Castillo, 20, who faces life without parole if convicted, is heard on the tape telling Tkachik that no matter what, she won't turn on him. "You'll never turn on me. I'll never turn on you. Right?" she asks repeatedly.

"Yeah, baby," Tkachik responds, and later tells her he'd "never say nothing" about her.

Tkachik, however, did testify as part of his plea agreement about how Castillo beat the child with a belt and was shaking her by the hair after becoming angry that she got into things and made a mess at their rental home at 3925 Missouri St., Hobart.

Tkachik admitted he held the child while Castillo beat her with a belt. Later in the conversation, Castillo said the "only word that's gonna come out of your mouth is it was an accident, right?"

Tkachik agrees.


http://www.post-trib.com/news/lake/2585332,new-castillo0811.article

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Post  Twiglet on Thu Aug 19, 2010 1:34 am

nwitimes

11 August 2010

Coroner's pathologist: Dozen injuries covered Jada's body‎

http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/lake/hobart/article_320c7e8a-0287-5bba-b38c-cda2733d9f7c.html

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Post  Twiglet on Thu Aug 19, 2010 1:37 am

Gary Post Tribune

12 August 2010

Castillo shifts blame; says boyfriend killed Jada‎

http://www.post-trib.com/news/2590762,new-castillo0812.article

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Post  Twiglet on Thu Aug 19, 2010 1:40 am

ABC 7 Chicago

12 August 2010

Hobart woman found guilty in toddler's murder

A jury has found a 20-year-old Hobart, Ind., woman guilty in the murder of a 2-year-old she was baby-sitting last year.

Engelica Castillo was convicted of murder, two counts of neglect of a dependent, battery and false informing in connection with the death of Jada Justice, a Lake County prosecutor announced Thursday. Castillo was convicted after a Lake Superior Court jury deliberated about two hours.

On Friday, the jury will hear arguments as to whether Castillo should be sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Castillo was babysitting the toddler when prosecutors say she beat the child then dumped her body in a swamp.


http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&id=7607408

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Post  Twiglet on Thu Aug 19, 2010 1:41 am

nwitimes

13 August 2010

Castillo guilty on all counts in Jada Justice murder case‎

http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/article_c3521c83-53e7-5bdd-9ea0-2ca7c7c36244.html

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Post  Twiglet on Thu Aug 19, 2010 1:44 am

nwitimes

14 August 2010

Justice for Jada: Castillo gets life without parole‎

Engelica Castillo was sentenced Friday to life without the possibility of parole for the murder of her young cousin, 2-year-old Jada Justice.

A Lake Superior Court jury deliberated for about 90 minutes before returning with the decision about 7 p.m.

Weeping, the 20-year-old Castillo sank to her knees while her sister, Amanda Valdez, cast her head into her hands to stifle her cries.

Formal sentencing was set for Sept. 9 when defense attorney Lemuel Stigler may pursue objections he raised Friday to the jury's decision.

The jury had sole discretion to sentence Castillo to life without parole or to a specific number of years in prison. The jurors had been given a range of 45 to 72 years based on the other four charges of which Castillo had been convicted Thursday.

Castillo, of Hobart, was convicted of murder, two counts of neglect of a dependent, battery and false informing in the case.

The toddler's battered body was found encased in concrete in a LaPorte County swamp in June 2009 after a nine-day search that was launched after Castillo told authorities the child had been abducted from a Gary gas station.

Castillo's former boyfriend, Timothy Tkachik, 25, had struck a plea deal with prosecutors and agreed to testify against Castillo in the case. He is currently set for sentencing Sept. 10. He faces a sentence of between 20 and 50 years.


http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/lake/gary/article_208436ac-2cab-5897-8a32-55ad81f150df.html

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Post  Twiglet on Thu Aug 19, 2010 1:45 am

Examiner

13 August 2010

Jada Justice case: jury gives life sentence to woman who killed Jada‎

http://www.examiner.com/crime-in-chicago/jada-justice-case-jury-gives-life-sentence-to-woman-who-killed-jada-2

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Post  Twiglet on Thu Aug 19, 2010 1:46 am

Gary Post Tribune

14 August 2010

Castillo gets life in prison for killing Hobart toddler‎
Jurors weigh brutality of beating death against troubled childhood of Engelica Castillo

http://www.post-trib.com/news/2597432,new-castillo0814.article

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Post  Twiglet on Thu Aug 19, 2010 1:47 am

Chicago Defender

16 August 2010

Jury: Life in prison for woman in death of girl‎

http://www.chicagodefender.com/article-8512-jury-life-in-prison-for-woman-in-death-of-girl.html

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Post  Twiglet on Thu Aug 19, 2010 1:49 am

The Herald Argus

17 August 2010

Cousin guilty of murder‎
20 year old to be sentenced Sept. 9 for death of girl found in LP County

http://heraldargus.com/articles/2010/08/17/news/local/doc4c69caf690223799962240.txt

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Post  Twiglet on Thu Aug 19, 2010 1:57 am

The Jury has recommended that Engelica Castillo should be sentenced to life in Prison without the possibility of parole.
She was convicted of murder, two counts of neglect of a dependent, battery and false informing in the case.

Formal sentencing for Engelica has been set for 9 September 2010



Timothy Tkachik, ex-boyfriend of Engelica Castillo, struck a plea deal with prosecutors. He faces a sentence of between 20 and 50 years.

Formal sentencing for Timothy has been set for 10 September 2010.

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Post  Twiglet on Wed Aug 25, 2010 9:11 pm

nwitimes

22 August 2010

Panel: Jada case shows flaws in state child welfare system‎

CROWN POINT | More than a year after the murder of 2-year-old Jada Justice, the investigation by the child fatality review team of the Indiana Department of Child Services is incomplete.

The Portage toddler's body was found battered, burned and encased in concrete in a LaPorte County swamp in June 2009. Ten days ago, the girl's second cousin, 20-year-old Engelica Castillo, of Hobart, was convicted of murder and sentenced to life without parole.

Castillo's boyfriend, Timothy Tkachik, 25, of Hobart, has pleaded guilty to two counts of neglect of a dependent. He faces a sentence of between 20 and 50 years in prison.

Though the courts have acted, no information on the DCS investigation is available.

Regarding the child's siblings, the state agency will only say there are no open assessments.

All told, Melissa Swiontek, of Portage, Jada's mother, had five children.

Following Jada's murder last year, Porter County courts placed two of the surviving children in the custody of Clarence Justice, Jada's father.

It is unclear whether the two children remain in their father's custody.

"There is no open assessment of Clarence Justice or his other children," DCS spokeswoman Ann Houseworth said in an e-mail. "As such, DCS would not be aware of the custody arrangements."

Castillo, Swiontek's cousin, testified during her murder trial she had baby-sat all five of Swiontek's children though Swiontek's testimony focused on her three children by Clarence Justice.

Castillo favored watching Jada over her two brothers, Swiontek said.

Swiontek has said she left Jada with Castillo on June 8, 2009, and had planned to pick her up nearly two weeks later, on Fathers Day. Castillo and Tkachik told police Jada was dropped off at their Hobart home to be potty-trained.

Trial testimony revealed Castillo had been sexually assaulted at ages 9 and 11, was beaten by her father and grew into a chronic runaway who was in and out of treatment programs for drug and behavioral issues.

In the wake of Castillo's conviction and sentencing, Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter said Castillo's family knew she wasn't the right person to care for children. He challenged family members to "step up" when they knew a child was being abused.

Forensic pediatrician Antoinette Laskey, chairwoman of the Indiana State Child Fatality Review Team, said school and medical officials who fail to report abuse face a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail.

"Rarely do prosecutors go after people who knowingly fail to make a report," said Laskey, a physician. "I don't know of any doctor who has been gone after. I don't know of any criminal prosecution."

But Laskey appeared to agree with Carter that families bear the utmost responsibility when it comes to reducing child abuse.

"Families have the most intimate knowledge of what goes on behind closed doors," she said.

Laskey's team was formed to help prevent child deaths, not place blame, she said.

It is not to be confused with the child fatality review team under the direction of DCS.

Unlike the DCS team, which works with local investigators to review a child's death, Laskey's team is statewide and composed of 15 volunteers from multiple disciplines. Created by statute, the team is appointed by the governor and meets once a month.

Prevention is the emphasis of the panel. However, Laskey says the legislation that created the review team is too flimsy.

"It needs to be overhauled," she said. "It is completely ineffective."

"We do a lot of reviews, but nobody cares," she said.

The team is without staff and unfunded, though it's modeled on state-created child death review teams in existence since the early 1980s.

"What we do is something that happens in all 50 states," she said.

"We were one of the last states to create a team," Laskey said. "We've only been around since 2004."

"Legislatively, we're working with DCS and the State Department of Health to see what needs to be done," she said, pointing to the Missouri and Michigan as potential role models.

A report released in February 2008, Laskey said, showed that the limited nature of Indiana's fatality review system allowed for the review of only 56 cases, worst in the nation.

Laskey said those 56 reviews fall far short of accurately representing how hundreds of other children were dying in Indiana.

http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/lake/crown-point/article_8ffa778a-fbfd-5dbe-b0dd-251a190e43c0.html
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Post  Twiglet on Fri Sep 10, 2010 8:07 am

The Republic

9 September 2010

Judge sentences NW Indiana woman to life without parole in 2-year-old cousin's death

A judge has formally sentenced a 20-year-old northwestern Indiana woman to life in prison without parole for killing her 2-year-old cousin.

Lake County Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr. sentenced Engelica Castillo of Hobart on Thursday. He followed the recommendation of a jury that last month convicted Castillo of murder charges in the June 2009 beating death of Jada Justice.

......Castillo's boyfriend, Timothy Tkachik, pleaded guilty in June to two felony counts of neglect of a dependent. He is scheduled to be sentenced Friday.


http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/71cef7833c7842b4b350445114c3d129/IN--Missing_Toddler-Sentencing/
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Post  Twiglet on Fri Sep 10, 2010 8:09 am

WLS

9 September 2010

Life in prison for woman who murdered Jade Justice‎

A 20-year-old northwest Indiana woman convicted of the killing her 2-year-old cousin, found burned and encased in concrete last year, will spend the rest of her life in prison.

Engelica Castillo of Hobart was convicted on Aug. 12 of murder, neglect of a dependent, battery and false informing in connection with the death of Jada Justice, accordig to the Lake County Prosecutor's office. The jury took about two hours to convict her.

On Aug 13., the jury deliberated another two hours and decided she should be sentenced to life in prison without parole, prosecutor's office spokeswoman Diane Poulton said.

On Thursday, Castillo was formally sentenced to life in prison without parole plus five years, a release from the prosecutor's office said.

Prosecutor Bernard A. Carter said he was pleased with the sentence. "Justice was served today," he said in the release. "This was a very tragic case involving the murder of an innocent two-year-old child."
After the sentence was imposed, Jada's mother Melissa Swiontek spoke to the court.

"We have many sleepless nights," she said. "We celebrate her birthday with pictures on a cake and a balloon release." Swiontek told Castillo her baby Jada is gone, yet Castillo has shown no remorse.

Castillo told police on June 18, 2009, that she left Jada in the car at a Gary gas station where she went to get milk. When she came out, the girl was gone.

On June 25, 2009, her boyfriend Timothy Tkachik led investigators to the girl's body south of Michigan City. Jada's body had been burned and encased in concrete.

Tkachik testified that Castillo became irritated at the girl for dumping a package of drink mix and spilling a container of syrup, the statement said. Tkachik said an angry Castillo repeatedly struck the child.

He also admitted striking the girl several times on the head and holding her down while Castillo repeatedly struck her with a belt, according to the release. Tkachik said Jada stopped breathing while in a vehicle and he and Castillo failed to get medical help.

Tkachik, 25, of Hobart, pleaded guilty to two counts of neglect of a dependent and faces up to 50 years in prison when he is sentenced Friday.

http://www.wlsam.com/Article.asp?id=1946852&spid=
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Post  Twiglet on Fri Sep 10, 2010 8:11 am

Sentence:

Engelica Castillo has been sentenced to life in prison without parole for killing her 2-year-old cousin.


Her boyfriend at the time, Timothy Tkachik Will be sentenced tomorrow for his involvement in Jada's death.

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Post  Twiglet on Sun Sep 12, 2010 10:15 am

Gary Post Tribune

11 September 2010

Tkachik sentencing delayed‎

Sentencing of Timothy Tkachik, former boyfriend of a Hobart woman sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Jada Justice, has been postponed.

No reason was given Friday for delaying the sentencing of Tkachik, 25, of Hobart, who pleaded guilty to two counts of neglect of a dependent in Jada's death.

Tkachik, who testified against co-defendant Engelica Castillo, faces a maximum 50-year prison sentence.

Lake Superior Court Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr. rescheduled the sentencing to 10:30 a.m. Dec. 3.


http://www.post-trib.com/news/porter/2695710,pbrief0911.article
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Post  Twiglet on Sun Dec 12, 2010 11:34 am


NWI

3 December 2010

Tkachik sentencing delayed again as prosecutors investigate another possible suspect in Jada Justice killing

Sentencing for Timothy Tkachik, co-defendant in the 2009 slaying of Portage toddler Jada Justice, has been continued to Jan. 21 because prosecutors are looking at another possible suspect in the case.

Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter on Thursday confirmed Tkachik's hearing was continued again due to the ongoing investigation.

"There's another individual we're looking at," he said, again declining to identify the suspect.

Tkachik had been expected to be sentenced Friday.


http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/lake/crown-point/article_5ad04bfd-6b05-534b-8f28-c7d82d2b30c6.html
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Post  Twiglet on Tue Jan 25, 2011 10:29 am

NWI

20 January 2011

Court delays sentencing in Jada Justice case

Friday's sentencing of Timothy Tkachik, co-defendant in the Jada Justice case, has been continued until April 8.

Lake County First Assistant Prosecutor Peter Villareal declined to comment on the delay Thursday, citing the ongoing nature of the case.

Tkachik, 25, pleaded guilty in June to two counts of neglect of a dependent for his role in the death of the Portage toddler.

The two counts of neglect of a dependent are Class A felonies, which carry sentences ranging from 20 to 50 years each, which would be served concurrently if accepted by the court.


http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/lake/crown-point/article_d269ed2f-2e53-50d7-b8eb-bc6db7c929b0.html

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Post  Twiglet on Sat Sep 17, 2011 5:47 am

ABC 7

25 July 2011

Mother of Jada Justice charged with neglect



The Indiana mother of a toddler who was beaten to death two years ago has been arrested in connection with the case.

Melissa Swiontek, 29, of Portage is charged with neglect of a dependent resulting in the child's death.

Prosecutors say Swiontek knew she was leaving her daughter, 2-year-old Jada Justice, with known drug dealers.
Jada died in 2009 after being beaten to death by Swiontek's cousin and the cousin's boyfriend. If convicted of neglect, Swiontek faces 20 to 30 years in prison.

Swiontek was arrested at about 8 a.m. Friday by members of the U.S. Marshals Service Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Task Force. Officers executed the arrest warrant at Swiontek's home in the 6900 block of Eisenhower Street and forced entry after knocking for about 10 minutes with no response, a spokesman said. She was home alone.
Swiontek's cousin, Engelica Castillo, 20, is serving a sentence of life in prison without parole plus five years for Jada's murder.

Timothy Tkachik, 25, pleaded guilty to two counts of neglect of a dependent in Jada's death and is awaiting sentencing by Lake Superior Court Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr., on Sept. 9. He faces a maximum 50-year prison term.


http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&id=8269644

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Post  Twiglet on Sat Sep 17, 2011 5:56 am

Timothy Tkachik has not yet been sentenced.

It now looks like he will be a witness in Melissa Swiontek's trial.

His Sentencing has been postponed until after her trial.

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Post  Twiglet on Mon Oct 10, 2011 2:00 am

nwitimes

5 October 2011

Hearing in Jada Justice case continued

‎An omnibus hearing for the mother of slain toddler Jada Justice was continued to Nov. 30.

Lake Criminal Court Magistrate Kathleen Sullivan agreed Wednesday to delay the hearing for Melissa Swiontek, 30, of Portage, who faces charges of two counts of neglect of a dependent.

Swiontek had knowledge her cousin Engelica Castillo and Castillo's boyfriend, Timothy Tkachik, were drug users and dealers prior to Swiontek's leaving the child in the couple's care, court documents state.

Prosecutors charged the couple with murder, neglect of a dependent, battery and false informing in June 2009 after Tkachik led police to the child's body buried in a LaPorte County swamp.

Castillo has been convicted on all counts and sentenced to life without parole. Tkachik, who has pleaded guilty to two counts of neglect, is awaiting sentencing.


http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/lake/hobart/article_50ea4f0a-be02-5b88-968c-a201d35a48f7.html

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Post  Twiglet on Wed Nov 07, 2012 10:22 am

nwitimes

31 October 2011

Jada Justice killer seeks reduced sentence

It was wrong to sentence Engelica Castillo to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder of her 2-year-old cousin, Jada Justice, because Castillo's co-defendant likely will receive a much shorter prison term.

That's the argument Castillo's attorney, Marce Gonzalez Jr., made to the Indiana Supreme Court on Monday in seeking a reduced sentence for the now 21-year-old Hobart woman.

Gonzalez said it's a breach of "fundamental fairness" that Castillo should die in prison while co-defendant Timothy Tkachik may serve as few as 10 years for their shared actions in beating Justice, encasing her body in concrete and dumping the toddler in a LaPorte County swamp in June 2009.

"A person is hard-pressed to say there is not equal responsibility in this case," Gonzalez said in urging the state's high court to revise Castillo's sentence to 60 years.

Tkachik faces 20 to 50 years in prison, which could be cut in half with good behavior, after cooperating with authorities and testifying against Castillo.

Several justices did not seem persuaded by Gonzalez's claim of disproportionality.

Chief Justice Randall Shepard got no answer when he repeatedly asked Gonzalez whether the court ever has said different defendants convicted of the same crime are entitled to identical sentences.

Justice Brent Dickson, who grew up in Hobart, asked whether there were any circumstances that would justify different sentences for Castillo and Tkachik.

Gonzalez admitted Castillo refused to assist authorities and that it was Tkachik, her then-boyfriend, who told police where to find Justice's body.

"My client, for whatever 18-year-old perverse reason, thought she was in love and wasn't going to flip on Mr. Tkachik," Gonzalez said.

Prosecutors said Castillo's life sentence is appropriate given her character and the nature of the crime and urged the court to uphold the Lake County jury's sentencing decision.

A ruling by the five-member Supreme Court is expected early next year.


http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/lake/hobart/jada-justice-killer-seeks-reduced-sentence/article_3b23d5fd-c3f1-5d14-b903-502d3f287faf.html

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Post  Twiglet on Wed Nov 07, 2012 10:25 am

nwitimes

19 January 2012

Court hearing delayed for mother of slain toddler Jada Justice

An omnibus hearing Thursday for the mother of slain Portage toddler Jada Justice was continued to April 25.

Melissa Swiontek, 30, was charged in July with two counts of neglect of a dependent in connection with her daughter's death at the hands of a cousin and the cousin's boyfriend.

The fourth resetting of Swiontek's omnibus hearing was sought by the defense, which continues to await discovery from the prosecution. Legal rules require prosecutors to turn over evidence to the defense in a process called discovery.

Court documents allege Swiontek had knowledge her cousin, Engelica Castillo, 21, and Castillo's boyfriend, Timothy Tkachik, 26, were drug users and dealers before Swiontek left the child in the couple's care.

Prosecutors charged Castillo and Tkachik, both of Hobart, with murder, neglect of a dependent, battery and false informing in June 2009 after Tkachik led police to the child's body buried in a LaPorte County swamp.

Castillo has been convicted on all counts and sentenced to life without parole.

Sentencing hearings for Tkachik, who pleaded guilty to two counts of neglect, have been rescheduled five times in anticipation of his cooperation with the state in Swiontek's prosecution.

In November, the state and the defense jointly asked the court for a status hearing on Tkachik. Lake Criminal Court Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr. granted the request and set a hearing for March 30.

Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter did not return telephone calls for comment on the proceedings.


http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/lake/hobart/court-hearing-delayed-for-mother-of-slain-toddler-jada-justice/article_75883367-a5d2-5174-b6d3-123f0388a165.html

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default Re: JADA JUSTICE - Aged 2 years - Indiana (USA)

Post  Twiglet on Wed Nov 07, 2012 10:28 am

nwitimes

18 February 2012

DCS: Slain toddler's mother neglected her disabled child in 2000

A region woman who one relative described as a "great mother" has twice been accused of neglecting her children, one of whom died in a high-profile homicide case, state records obtained by The Times show.

Melissa Swiontek faces felony neglect of a dependent charges relating to her daughter Jada Justice's death in June 2009. But nine years before Jada's death, Swiontek was chastised by the Indiana Department of Child Services for leaving her then 3-year-old disabled son at home alone in Portage, DCS records state.

The records recently were released to The Times through a public records request.

Swiontek told DCS investigators at the time that she thought it was OK to leave her son, Jesus Albanice, alone because he was immobile, DCS records state. He functioned at the level of a newborn baby, couldn't see and had a feeding tube, according to the records.

Jesus had Zellweger syndrome, a genetic disorder that affected his brain and liver. He died as a result of the disorder on Dec. 3, 2001, state records show.

Swiontek said she left Jesus home alone on Feb. 29, 2000, so she could go to the laundromat. She was arrested there after a confrontation with her ex-boyfriend's wife, DCS records state. When Portage police took her into custody, Swiontek told the officers she had a handicapped child at home.

DCS officials later substantiated neglect allegations against Swiontek for leaving Jesus by himself, DCS records show. She was ordered to take parenting classes and was supervised by a DCS caseworker for six months.

Swiontek's mother, Lisa Huerta, vigorously denies her daughter ever neglected Jesus — or any of her other children.

"She never neglected him, period," Huerta said in a recent interview with The Times.

Huerta said Swiontek took Jesus to regular doctor's appointments at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis to treat his disorder. Life expectancy for a child with Zellweger Syndrome is 6 months, but Jesus lived until two days before his fifth birthday, she said.

Huerta claims Jesus was being watched by another family member when the incident at the laundromat took place — despite DCS records that say otherwise.

Huerta said police asked her to care for Jesus when Swiontek was arrested.

She called her daughter's arrest at the laundromat "a dumb childhood thing." Swiontek, who was 18 at the time, never was criminally charged for the incident.

"Teenagers do dumb things," Huerta said. "Who hasn't as a teenager?"

Huerta said she doesn't understand why people are trying to portray her daughter as a "bad witch" when she is a victim. She said Swiontek is a single mother who put herself through college while caring for five children.

"Everything I've seen from Melissa indicates she's a very good mom," Swiontek's attorney, John Vouga, said.

Swiontek, now 30, faces felony neglect charges relating to her daughter Jada's death at the hands of a cousin and the cousin's boyfriend in June 2009, Lake Criminal Court records state. Swiontek is accused of leaving then 2-year-old Jada with Engelica Castillo and Timothy Tkachik, knowing they were drug users and dealers.

Swiontek previously told The Times she intended to leave Jada with the Hobart couple for nearly two weeks.

Tkachik and Castillo were charged with murder, two counts of neglect of a dependent, battery and false informing after Jada's body was found burned and encased in concrete in a LaPorte County swamp.

Castillo was convicted on all counts and sentenced to life in prison.

Tkachik pleaded guilty to two counts of neglect of a dependent but has not been sentenced, Lake Criminal Court records show. He testified against Castillo during her trial and is expected to testify against Swiontek.

Swiontek's next court hearing is scheduled for April 25.


http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/lake/hobart/dcs-slain-toddler-s-mother-neglected-her-disabled-child-in/article_c89daa33-0e87-52cf-bd7b-ef532d064f8a.html

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