Child, 2, dies after judge ignores Child Protective Services' warning

June 6, 2013 3:51:19 AM PDT
A 2-year-old child died after a judge ignored a strong warning from Child Protective Services.

The judge who signed the order, ultimately placing the children where a shooting happened in that home, declined to comment on Wednesday, but the lawyer who recommended the placement in the home did comment, saying it was a tragic accident that could have happened anywhere.

In March, Child Protective Services told a judge that the home in Cherokee County was not a good location to place three children. A case worker said there was strong odor, clutter and a lack of supervision.

"Anytime a home assessment is denied, we obviously don't want the children in the placement," said Jennifer Davis, a lawyer for CPS.

A lawyer for the children, Jeff Marsh, argued against CPS, saying the home was safe. The judge signed the order approved the placement, and the kids were allowed to stay.

Two months later, on May 29, two-year-old Trenton Mathis found a gun in the home and fatally shot himself in the face.

On Wednesday, we asked Marsh if he stood by his recommendation.

"This is a tragic mistake that happens unfortunately in too many houses," he said.

Marsh maintains his opinion about the placement of the children in spite of the tragedy, saying the children were loved and he wanted them to be with relatives.

"It was family, they knew them and they were comfortable. The history that had been there, and it fit," Marsh said.

In December 2012, the children and a fourth sibling were taken away from their parents due to allegations of abuse and neglect. They had failed to comply with court requirements to be reunited with their children and they refused to comment to Eyewitness News about it.

One of the couple's children was not placed in the home where the shooting happened, but instead placed in a Houston foster home. The 23-month-old had suffered rib fractures and starvation. Since the shooting, two surviving children had been at that Houston home. On Wednesday, another judge said they could stay.

So far, no charges have been filed in this case, but the Cherokee County DA's office says it's still investigating.

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