Curtains have finally come down on the trial of the social workers of Philadelphia - they were held responsible for the miserable death of 14-year-old Danieal Kelly four years ago.
For days before she died in a fetid, airless room — made stifling hot by a midsummer heat wave — the bedridden teenager begged for something to drink until she could muster only one word: water.
On August 4th, 2006, police and paramedics found the 42-pound body of 14-year-old Danieal Kelly in her West Philadelphia home. Danieal, who had been dead for several hours by then, was found lying on a dirty mattress surrounded by feces. Maggot-infested bedsores covered her back. She had been on the mattress for such a long time, the shape of her body was imprinted into the mattress.
On April 29, 2009, Andrea Kelly, 39, took a plea bargain that spared her a first-degree murder charge, and was sentenced to 20 to 40 years in prison for third-degree murder and endangering the welfare of a child.
The 258-page grand jury report said Andrea Kelly was too embarrassed by her disabled daughter to touch her even, take her out in public, change her diapers or make sure she had enough fluids. It portrays Daniel Kelly, the father who once had custody of Danieal, as having no interest in raising her. He is now facing child-endangerment charges.
The report on Danieal's death documents a downward spiral from the early years that she spent in Arizona with her father and his girlfriend.
Though Danieal attended special-needs classes only sporadically, a school report described her as an active learner and "one of the sweetest students ever enrolled in this program." But allegations of parental neglect soon surfaced, and following Daniel Kelly's breakup with his girlfriend in 2001, Danieal never again attended school.
Daniel Kelly and his children moved to Philadelphia in 2003. He eventually asked his estranged wife to move in, even though she had several other children and he knew she was incapable of caring for Danieal, authorities say. He then moved out.
"Daniel Kelly was well aware what deserting his daughter meant to her safety and welfare," the grand jury report said. "He just did not care."
The Department of Human Services received at least five reports of Danieal being mistreated between 2003 and 2005. All described a "helpless child sitting unattended, unkempt and unwashed, in a small stroller in her own urine and feces," her screams ignored by her mother, the grand jury report said. The stroller, which served as a wheelchair, apparently never left the house. And it accuses the city Department of Human Services of being "uncaring and incompetent."
A federal investigation started after William McDonald, a criminal investigator from the federal Department of Health and Human Services, read a lengthy article in The Philadelphia Inquirer about Kelly's death.
Federal prosecutors charged that MultiEthnic Behavioral Health Inc. failed to perform home care visits to Danieal Kelly, yet billed the City for these services. The city paid the politically connected firm $1 million a year to ensure that its neediest families got specialized attention.
Company workers assigned to the chaotic home where 14-year-old Kelly was wasting away in a wheelchair were supposed to ensure she and her siblings had proper housing, schooling and medical care.
When the FBI began investigating MultiEthnic for its negligence in the Kelly case, and 500 other cases assigned to them, subpoenaed documents were allegedly shredded and tossed out, or not produced.
The agency's founder Mickal Kamuvaka was also charged with ordering his staff to create records documenting home visits to Danieal that never occurred, and with creating false paperwork whenever the City notified the agency of upcoming audits. Call logs listing messages from the days immediately surrounding Danieal's death are missing from documents turned over to federal prosecutors.
A federal judge last week sentenced Kamuvaka to 17 and a half years in prison on health-care fraud and conspiracy charges.
Company co-founder, Solomon Manamela, sentenced to 14 years for his role in the fraud. Manamela, a 52-year-old political refugee from South Africa, faces deportation when he gets out.
Kamuvaka, 61, came to the U.S. from Liberia on a college scholarship, and went on to earn a Ph.D. and become a beloved mentor to social-work students at Lincoln University, several of whom spoke on her behalf Thursday.
She and co-defendant Earle McNeill, 72, formed the company in about 2000 to bid on the city contract. They had no other clients, and their primary experience was with adults and addicts.
"McNeill was, by whatever magic, indeed able to win the ... (contract) in the summer of 2000, notwithstanding the reality that (the company) had no experience whatever in dealing with 'at risk' children," the judge noted.
In all, nine MultiEthnic employees were convicted - Kamuvaka, Manamela and two others at trial and five others through pleas.
The final two defendants were convicted Friday.
U.S. District Judge Stewart Dalzell sentenced Julius Murray, of Upper Darby, to 11 years in prison and ordered him to pay restitution of $316,000. Dalzell sentenced Mariam Coulibaly, of Brookhaven, to 11 1/4 years in prison with restitution set at $1,044.
He was hired to visit Kelly's home twice a week, but testimony at trial was that Murray, 52, had likely not shown up for at least a month. During that time Kelly's flesh was rotting from giant bedsores. He has been in custody since his arrest on illegal immigration charges last year.
Coulibaly was convicted of falsifying documents that had the city believing visits were being made to the homes of at-risk children. She was immediately taken into custody.
Judge Dalzell said Kelly's "gruesome death" required the failure of her parents, the city, the schools, and the agency paid to protect her.
It was, said the judge, a remarkable demonstration of "the banality of evil." That phrase was used by Hannah Arendt in her book about the trial of the Nazi Adolf Eichmann, whose defense for organizing mass murder was that he merely followed orders.
"Human beings are unbelievably complicated people," said Dalzell, who was appointed to the bench in 1991. "Even people who can seem to be absolutely normal, law-abiding, good people can be monsters. The same people."