A judge ruled Monday that a severely abused 20-month-old baby girl will remain in the custody of Child Protective Services.
Calling it the worst case of child abuse he has ever seen, Judge Donald Jones said returning the child to the home posed a “substantial risk” and “continued danger” for the child known as “Baby Dee.”
“I have never seen a case like this - not one - in all of the hundreds I’ve heard,” Jones said.
During Monday’s CPS hearing, the baby’s mother Jeannette Cuevas was ordered to have no contact with the child. She remains incarcerated in the Erath County Jail, charged with serious bodily injury to a child.
Authorities began investigating the case in November, after
Leticia Adame, who was living in the home with Cuevas and the child, called 911 to report that the child was not breathing.
When a Dublin police officer arrived at the scene, he found “Baby Dee” malnourished, severely injured and living in a single-wide trailer with four adults and seven children. The officer called Chief Investigator Donnie Hensley with the Erath County Sheriffs Department, who instructed the officer to take the child into protective custody and transport her to Harris Methodist Erath County Hospital.
Hensley testified Adame and Cuevas first claimed the baby became unconscious while “holding her breath.” The two later admitted the child lost consciousness after placing their hands over the child’s mouth and nose.
“She (Adame) panicked,” Hensley said. “What do you do if you have a dead baby on your hands?”
The child was later taken to Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth.
Virginia Lampinen, an investigator with CPS, testified that a CT scan and MRI showed the child suffered from “multiple old brain bleeds” and bilateral retinal hemorrhaging.
The child also suffered from cuts around the mouth, where she had allegedly been slapped and her mouth forced closed because she was “drooling.” She also showed signs of “pattern bruising” on her thighs and buttocks, which indicate she was hit with a belt or stick.
Lampinen said if the child had not been removed from the home, she might not have lived another day.
“The abuse was escalating,” she said.
Lampinen also said Cuevas admitted to spanking and force-feeding the child, but claimed it was Adame who was responsible for the abuse.
Adame, 44, also remains in jail charged with serious bodily injury to a child.
Heath Allen has been appointed to represent Cuevas. Allen said his client agreed with the decision to place the child in the care of CPS, but did not want to comment further on the case.
Since the child was removed from the home, she has gained four pounds and is “thriving.” There will be continued testing to determine the extent of her injuries.
The child’s father Carlos Vagellas was ordered to begin paying child support or face jail time. Vagellas said he has had no contact with his daughter and was unaware of the abuse.