Readers of SHS will recall the tragic tale of Haleigh Poutre, beaten nearly to death by her adoptive parents and consigned quickly to death by dehydration by doctors who swore she would never awaken only ten days post injury, the Department of Social Services that decided her life was thus of too low a quality to be allowed to continue, and a Supreme Court that willingly went along. Happily, in the two months or so it took for the bureaucratic processes of death to be completed, Haleigh began showing signs of awareness. Ultimately, she apparently improved to the point that she can eat by mouth and can receive schooling and be eligible for adoption.
Now, the State has wanted her testimony against the step father who authorities allege almost killed her. But the DA in the case thinks that is not in her best interests. From the story:
In a surprise 11th-hour move, Hampden County prosecutor Laurel Brandt yesterday reversed her previous position that she wanted the brain-injured girl to serve as a witness in the trial of Poutre’s stepfather, who is accused of contributing to her injuries.
Brandt filed a motion saying that after further review of medical and psychological records, as well as “meeting on several occasions with the child herself,” she decided that it was against Haleigh’s best interests to testify in a public forum.
The prosecution’s abrupt announcement stunned nearly everyone in the case. Many had anticipated a powerful confrontation between the severely injured victim and the accused, Jason Strickland.
It is still possible that Alan Black, Strickland’s defense lawyer, could call Poutre as a witness. He has the option of asking that her competency hearing in Superior Court in Springfield, set for 9 a.m. today, continue as planned. Black could not be reached for comment yesterday.
From what I know of the case, there is a lot of evidence against Strickland without Haleigh’s testimony, and my compliments go out to Prosecutor Brandt. But even if it means he is acquitted, it seems to me this little girl has been put through quite enough already. After so much abandonment and abuse from those who were supposed to love and protect her, Haleigh deserves special care.