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Couple Sentenced in Child Neglect Death of Infant

31-Jul-2017

A Tulsa mother and her boyfriend were sentenced last week in the case of a 5-month-old baby who died in a dirty shed amid what a judge called "horrendous" neglect.

Anne Marie Hyden, 24, and Kevin Lee Crawford, 53, were living with the infant in an "uninhabitable" shed when the baby died.

Police and EMT's responded to a call of an unresponsive baby on January 16. Hyden, the baby's mother, told investigators that she left the baby in the care of Crawford, her boyfriend, while she went to buy cigarettes. When she returned three hours later, she found the infant unresponsive. She told investigators Crawford had "disciplined the baby for crying," and was trying to "[teach] him a lesson." 

 

The baby was transported to a local hospital in cardiac arrest. At the hospital, he was found to be septic and suffering from pneumothorax, or a collapsed lung. He died of his injuries.

Investigators described conditions at the shed where the couple lived with the baby as "deplorable," noting that the structure had no running water,  no heat, no insulation, and no electricity. The couple did provide some electricity to the shed via an extension cord running to a nearby home. Investigators also found evidence that the couple manufactured methamphetamine inside the shed in the baby's presence.

After his death, Hyden and Crawford were each charged with child neglect and drug crimes. They each entered a blind plea to the charges last spring, and both were sentenced last week.

Anne Marie Hyden was sentenced to 20 years in prison and 5 years in prison. Crawford was sentenced to life in prison for child neglect and an additional 15 years for related drug charges.

Hyden and Crawford are not the only ones being held accountable for the death of the baby amid egregious neglect. The case also prompted DHS to investigate and discipline a number of employees after it was determined that the agency had responded to at least five reports regarding the child in his five short months of life. Each call was found to be "unsubstantiated," despite overwhelming evidence of drug use and homelessness.

Only one day after the baby was born, DHS received a report from the hospital that the newborn tested positive for marijuana. The agency inadvertently screened out the call. Two days later, they received another report from the hospital that the mother admitted to using heroin and alcohol while pregnant. The agency found that the newborn was sleeping with a blanket in a baby bathtub.

Two more reports came in early and late August regarding the mother's drug use and failure to report for medical care. However, the agency treated those two calls as duplications of the July call.

The Tulsa World describes a DHS home visit on August 31: 

"A DHS worker did a home visit and found 'a random man standing outside on the porch with bloodshot eyes and obsessed with a cat.' The worker requested the baby's parents, and Hyden's boyfriend came to the door. Documents state the worker could not understand him because of slurring his words. He said Hyden was in court. When asked to see the child, the man brought Arrow to the door naked. The worker was refused entrance into the home."

Subsequent reports are similar--Hyden's homelessness, not living where she was supposed to, admitting drug use in the presence of the infant, failing to follow through with a required safety plan, etc. Still, the agency found that the child was not at risk. 

DHS Director Ed Lake said of Arrow Hyden's death, "Arrow was mistreated and neglected through no fault of his own, and indications are that our staff did not effectively intervene to possibly prevent this tragic outcome. I am also disturbed that, given the comprehensive changes we have made in our child protective services program over the past several years, the facts suggest such poor decisions were made when it came to protecting Arrow’s safety."

The case prompted a review of two years of child neglect deaths in Oklahoma.



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