Judge Jena P. Culler: No apology, no remorse in death of baby
By Celeste M. Hart
Patrick Steele did not get the benefit of the doubt, sympathy or even an apology from Judge Jena P. Culler, North Carolina 26th District. His 16-month old grandson, Jaheim Richardson, was killed, allegedly, by his mother’s boyfriend, Daquan McFadden, July 15, 2019; three months after Culler removed Jaheim and his three and four-year-old brothers, from Steele’s home and returned to mother’s custody that was revoked due to her own abuse of her baby.
Steele, attended a custody hearing in Culler’s court, March, 2020. He filed for permanent custody of Jaheim, before his death and the hearing just came up. Culler dismissed the motion without prejudice, meaning he can re-file after the murder trial. Everybody has an attorney except him.
Culler chastised Steele for his tardiness to the pre-scheduled hearing. He sat a few hours through the other folks ‘cases, but her bailiff never came over to him, to ask his name or his case information, as many others practice. Culler took an afternoon break and upon return questioned Steele on why he was late and would not hear his reason. It is Unbelievable and disrespectful that Culler did not recognize Steele who showed up at 9:40 am, no transportation, depended on a ride, with his boys, three and four years old, in stride.
“What time did you get here - you were about 45 minutes late, weren’t you?” asked Culler.
“I had to take the boys to …” said Steele before Culler rudely interrupted as he said she did during the hearing that took Jaheim and his brothers from him. He had to take the boys to the court’s daycare.
Steele told the court, in the previous hearing that granted him custody, he was not aware of any of the fathers’ information. He said the fathers would occasionally and sporadically bring items for a son. Culler considered him incredible and versus his daughter, Jaheim’s mother, proven abuse, homelessness and mental issues, all three boys were removed from Steele’s care. Three months later, Jaheim was killed. All missed warning signs due to the common family law practice of believing the mothers, and fathers are liars. The boys were bounced back and forth, in less than a year, removed from mother to Steele, removed from Steele to mother, a child dead, surviving boys removed from mother back to Steele who is trying to survive the constant threats of another removal from Child Protection Services.
“Possible exposure to alcohol use by the caretaker, Patrick Steele,” CPS report following the return of the surviving boys to Steele.
Social worker ordered him to submit to a drug test, within hours, no transportation, the boys in tow. He showed up with the help of a friend. Steele said the CPS social worker attempted to coerce him to sign a plan that labeled him an alcoholic and drug addict and required eight weeks of treatment or the boys would be taken. He refused and a day later, the assessment center representative called and said, Congratulations, and sent an email.
“An assessment done, proved no drug or alcohol issues. Signed, PS.”
Steele received warnings to not speak to the media or the boys will be taken, again. Boys that are happy, thriving and love their ‘Pop-Pop’ as detailed in Facebook posts. Boys that experienced nightmares and possibly trauma issues in the future.
Jaheim’s autopsy report states he weighed 28 pounds, height, 32 inches, blunt force injuries to head, chest and the healing of his scrotum and buttocks from burns. A baby tortured over time, his brothers watched in horror, Steele’s broken heart and Culler’s indifference yet concern about 40 minutes tardy. How long did Jaheim suffer and slowly die? No one heard his cries for help as no one heard his grandfather’s cries or the daycare staff’s. Charged with Jaheim’s murder, Daquan McFadden, and Yasmine Richardson, Steele’s daughter, Jaheim’s mother is charged with child abuse, not the murder. Those charged with protecting children, the judges, social workers, attorneys, and prosecutors failed, again.
“They killed my baby,” cried Steele. “The system does not work,” said Steele.
In another case in Culler’s court, after Jaheim’s death, a father was brought back for a hearing he didn’t request.
“I don’t know why I’m even here. You already denied my motion to modify visitation,” said the father.
Cleveland, Ohio, Aniya Garrett, four-year-old killed by mother and her boyfriend in two years ago, I attended the trial, interviewed dad and read her police, CPS and autopsy reports. Mycheal Garrett, her dad, also cried out for help, warned the judges and Children’s Services. Aniya cried out for help, told her daycare workers and emergency hospital staff, no one listened. Garrett still fights for Aniya and all abused children, through protests, events in Aniya’s honor and a lawsuit pending.
“They killed my baby,” cried Garrett in court. “The system failed Aniya,” said Garrett.
Aniya’s mother, Sierra Day, received life without parole and her boyfriend, Deonte Lewis, got life with parole. I will be following Jaheim’s justice. Steele’s somber journey of trials, hearings and more hearings in various courts is just beginning and Mr. Garrett desires to reach out to Steele through this difficult time.
The national estimate of child deaths due to abuse, 1710, in 2017, 1770 in 2018, according to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System’s Child Maltreatment Report. In the US, more than four children die from abuse on a daily basis. Recently, April 24, 2020, a three-year-old boy was killed by his mother’s boyfriend, in Pennsylvania, and again, CPS did not listen. How many more will die?
We make change by voting for judges with common sense, fairness and un-biased. Culler is on the November 3, 2020 ballot, as a Democrat. Un-apological, do not vote based on party or gender, but do vote.