The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation has delivered to a prosecutor a 1,046-page report on the Serenity Deal case.
“They were very thorough,” Pottawatomie County District Attorney Richard Smothermon said.
Serenity was the 5-year-old girl who was murdered by her father after DHS workers agreed she could live with him at his Oklahoma City apartment. She had been in foster care.
The district attorney in August asked the OSBI to look into the events leading up to Serenity's death June 4.
“The focus of the investigation will be on the actions and inactions of all parties involved in the custody and placement of Serenity Deal prior to her death,” he wrote the OSBI.
He specifically asked the OSBI to look at events that happened and decisions that were made while the girl was in DHS custody, “and what, if any, criminal violations may have occurred.”
Smothermon told The Oklahoman the OSBI on Tuesday delivered the report and two boxes of information. He said he now will review the materials.
“I will look for any evidence of any criminal wrongdoing on the part of DHS workers,” the district attorney said.
Serenity died less than a month after she began living with her father full time at the recommendation of DHS workers.
The girl was placed with her father, Sean Devon Brooks, even though she was injured twice in January 2011 during overnight visits with him. The Oklahoma Department of Human Services got involved in the girl's care because her mother had been accused of molesting a boy.
Brooks had not known he was Serenity's father until she was about 3, records show.
Brooks, 32, pleaded guilty in December to first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison. He admitted in his plea that he beat her in the head.
After the girl died, DHS suspended four employees involved in her case — a Lincoln County DHS child welfare worker and his supervisor, and a Pottawatomie County DHS child welfare worker and his supervisor.
The Lincoln County worker, Donald Wheeler, committed suicide. His supervisor, Wes Priest, quit. Pottawatomie County child welfare specialist Randy Lack and supervisor Jennifer Shawn eventually were fired.
The agency concluded Lack and Shawn failed to make full background checks of Serenity's father and failed to fully inform the judge overseeing Serenity's case. They have denied wrongdoing. Shawn has said they are being made “scapegoats for this.”
Both have appealed their terminations to the Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission. The appeals are pending.
Their attorney, Pete Serrata, said both cooperated fully in the inquiry.
“We're hopeful that the agents will come to the truth of the matter regarding how the entirety of the system failed, beyond DHS,” Serrata said.
“The way the system's supposed to work is DHS does their job. It is supposed to go to the DA who does his job, who then takes it to the judge who is supposed to do his job,” he said.
“In this case, I think what you're going to find ... is that there were failures in all three sections.
“DHS isn't the end-all. If DHS makes a mistake, then it is supposed to be the DA to catch it. And, if the DA makes a mistake, the judge is supposed to be the final, ultimate authority as to what's supposed to happen.”