GUTHRIE — Jurors found an Edmond woman guilty of child abuse Monday in connection with the death of her 2-year-old foster child and recommended she pay a $5,000 fine but suggested no prison time. The district attorney had hoped for a stiffer punishment.
Amy Holder, 40, of Edmond, was convicted of abusing Naomi Whitecrow, who died after four months in foster care with Holder.
Naomi and a sibling were taken from Kala Whitecrow, their biological mother, in February 2008. Naomi went to live with Holder in September 2008 and died Jan. 20, 2009.
The jury reached the verdict about midnight Monday, Logan County District Attorney Tom Lee said Tuesday.
“Our office is happy that the defendant was found guilty of child abuse,” Lee said. “Obviously we are disappointed that she was not sent to prison, however we respect the jury's work and its decision in a very difficult case.”
Jurors began deliberating about 2 p.m. Monday.
Wanada Redhat, 57, Naomi's great-aunt, said she was devastated by the recommended sentence.
“We couldn't believe it,” she said. “She (Holder) doesn't need to be taking care of any other children. She's a danger to children, and I wouldn't want any other child put in her care. She's likely to do it to another baby.”
Redhat said she plans to gather family members to write letters to the judge, asking for a harsher sentence. “The whole deal was a shock,” she said. “It's very heartbreaking.”
Kala Whitecrow could not be reached for comment.
Scott Adams, Holder's attorney, said his client will appear at the sentencing hearing Nov. 3 with a check to pay the fine.
“The truth is there are no winners in this case,” Adams said. “What the jury was trying to tell everyone was my client was negligent in some regards, but not with her death.”
Scrapes and bruises
A medical examiner's report showed there were scrapes and bruises on Naomi's face, chest, back, legs, right buttock and head, as well as old and new scabs. An Indiana pathologist ruled the child died of blunt-force injury to the head, abdomen and extremities.
Adams said a Texas expert testified neurological problems such as a seizure could have led to the toddler's death.
Naomi died in her sleep, Adams said.
“Amy didn't notice anything unusual with her in the hours before she put her to bed,” Adams said.
Earlier in the investigation, Holder described the child as “self-destructive,” and said the little girl “picked at her skin to the point she would cause her skin to bleed” and “had sores on her body that would not heal because she wouldn't stop picking at her skin.”
Naomi had trouble walking, would fall 20 to 30 times a day, repeatedly tried to gobble food whole and would grab stuff from the trash and attempt to eat it, Holder told investigators.
Holder said she took the child to a pediatrician five days before the child's death, but she didn't think the doctor addressed her concerns because all the doctor prescribed were a steroid lotion and steroid body wash for dry skin, and medicine for constipation.
Holder testified for nearly three hours during the two-week trial and said the pediatrician ignored her concerns, Adams said.
CONTRIBUTING: Staff Writers Robert Medley and Tiffany Gibson