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Dad, workers get up to 5 years in starvation death

By Maryclaire Dale
Associated Press / October 20, 2011

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PHILADELPHIA—The absentee father of a disabled Philadelphia teenager who starved to death in a squalid apartment was sentenced Thursday to 2 1/2 to five years in prison.

A jury had found Daniel Kelly, 40, guilty of felony child neglect in the 2006 death of his 14-year-old daughter, Danieal. She weighed just 42 pounds and had maggot-infested bedsores.

Two social workers received the same sentence for failing the girl. Dana Poindexter, 54, was the city caseworker assigned to the chaotic Kelly family. Mickal Kamuvaka, 62, owned an agency that got a $1 million contract to work with the city's neediest families.

"She could have intervened to save this child's life," Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey P. Minehart said of Kamuvaka.

Instead, the contractor staged what prosecutors called "a forgery fest" to cover up missed visits to the family. Kamuvaku is already serving a related 17-year federal sentence for health care fraud. Minehart ordered her to serve the state sentence after that.

Eerike Kamuvaka, 23, of Philadelphia, said her mother "is not the monster that people make her out to be."

Poindexter also had a string of character witnesses tell the judge he had helped them get through tough times.

But Minehart said they showed no remorse over the girl's slow, miserable death. He drew the same conclusion about Daniel Kelly.

Danieal had thrived for many years living with him in Arizona, but teachers and others attributed that to Kelly's longtime girlfriend. When the couple split up, Danieal's school attendance, and overall health, went downhill.

Then Daniel Kelly returned to Philadelphia and abandoned the girl with her unfit mother, Andrea Kelly, who had eight other children. The girl went long stretches without going to school or seeing a doctor or social worker for her cerebral palsy and other health problems. The mother is serving 20 to 40 years for third-degree murder.

"This was just gross indifference," Minehart said to Poindexter, the city social worker. "When you go to a house, you have to know what's going on. You can't just go back to the office and put the file on the shelf."

The hearing brought the five-year case to an end. More than a dozen people have been convicted in state and federal investigations.

Lead prosecutors Ed McCann and Jennifer Selber said they were satisfied, not just by the sentencings, but by changes the case prompted at the city's Department of Human Services, where top officials were ousted.

He noted that Danieal, unlike most murder victims, had no relatives in court to honor her memory.

"She didn't have a family that cared for her, so we were her voice, and that was troubling," McCann said. "So many people let her down." top stories on Twitter

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