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Oklahoma DHS sued over Serenity Deal's murder

Serenity Deal's grandparents and her imprisoned mother have filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.
by Nolan Clay Modified: July 5, 2013 at 9:30 am •  Published: July 4, 2013
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The two fired DHS workers pleaded no contest last November to a misdemeanor charge of suppressing evidence in Serenity's case. Both were put on probation for a year.

They were accused of maliciously keeping evidence from the judge when they recommended the girl be placed with her father.

The suppressed evidence included a chilling hospital photo of Serenity's swollen and bruised face and two black eyes, District Attorney Richard Smothermon said in November. The photo was taken after the second overnight visit with her father in January 2011.

The prosecutor said the judge never would have placed Serenity with her father if the judge had seen that evidence.

DHS issued this statement in November: “We share the district attorney's belief that the child welfare workers handling Deal's case, Jennifer Shawn and Randy Lack, were negligent in their duties which is why they were terminated … We continue to regret the heart-wrenching outcome of this child's case.”

DHS officials had no further comment this week.

Grandparents sought adoption

Serenity was not living with her mother because her mother had been accused of molesting a boy. Samantha Deal, now 23, eventually pleaded no contest to oral sodomy. She was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Charles and Annette Deal, of Chandler, had tried to adopt Serenity but were turned down because Brooks objected. Brooks had not known he was Serenity's father until she was about 3, records show.

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by Nolan Clay
Sr. Reporter
Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials,...
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