ENID — Julie Burks of Enid said she wants justice for her 2-year-old cousin, Davi-Angela Harber, who was born in jail in 2006 and died violently two years later. "You couldn’t imagine how beautiful this little girl was,” Burks said. "How someone could do this to her, I can’t understand it, I can’t figure it out.” A report by the Commission on Children and Youth reveals a series of missed opportunities by the state Department of Human Services to check on Davi-Angela’s welfare after she was born. Davi-Angela died Oct. 26, 2008. She had been admitted to an Enid hospital with traumatic injuries to the head and brain, court records show. The medical examiner later ruled her cause of death as blunt force trauma and classified it as a homicide. Her mother, DeAngela R. Harber, 42, told police she didn’t know how her daughter ended up with a head laceration about an inch long, and bruises on her face, head and leg. Harber was charged in September with first-degree murder. Tests done at the hospital showed Davi-Angela’s brain had hemorrhaged and shifted to the right inside of her skull. A doctor told investigators that her injuries were similar to ones seen in serious car accidents and victims of shock and trauma. Harber told police investigators the night Davi-Angela died she had gone to bed about 11 p.m. She said she was awakened by her daughter’s cries several hours later and noticed Davi-Angela had wet the bed. Harber said she changed her daughter’s clothes and then put her back down to sleep. When she returned to check on her daughter, she was unresponsive and her eyes were black, she said.
Born in prisonBeth Scott, a spokeswoman with DHS, wouldn’t comment specifically on Harber’s case. She said when a child is born to an incarcerated mother, investigators are sent to make sure the mother can make a decision about guardianship or they will assist in placing the child. The report shows DHS failed to initiate that investigation on five occasions in March and April of 2006. Child welfare workers also failed to initiate a face-to-face meeting with the newborn in May. Scott said she’s not sure what the cause of the missed meetings was. Usually they occur when a person is moving around and child welfare workers aren’t able to locate them. When Davi-Angela was born, Harber was serving time at Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in McLoud for a 2004 conviction on counts of possessing a controlled dangerous substance and maintaining a place where drugs are used and sold. She received two five-year suspended sentences to be served concurrently. The suspended sentences were revoked after Harber failed to comply with the terms of her probation. Harber’s first incarceration was in 1993 on embezzlement charges, state Corrections Department records show. Harber also has served time in prison for bringing contraband into a jail and drug charges. Davi-Angela and her younger brother were cared for by her maternal grandmother, Billy Brown, until Harber was released from prison about a year after Davi-Angela was born. After Davi-Angela died, Brown told DHS workers her parental rights for her own children had been taken away years before. She began caring for her grandchildren when her children were jailed. Harber also had another child in DHS custody, the report states. Burks said she called police two days after Davi-Angela died to alert authorities Harber still had Davi-Angela’s 11-month-old brother in her care. "She was mean,” Burks said of Harber. "She had this problem with always hitting on those kids.” When authorities arrived to take Harber’s son into protective custody, neighbors rushed toward the officer and Harber refused to hand over her son. The officer called for back-up and Harber was taken to jail, court records show. She later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstructing a police officer. Burks said on one occasion she witnessed Davi-Angela with a black eye and busted lip with big bruises on her back. Other family members told her of witnessing Harber kicking Davi-Angela. "There were a lot of people that loved those kids, I figured somebody was taking care of it,” she said. Harber is being held without bail in the Garfield County jail. Her next court appearance is May 11.
NewsOK.com has disabled the comments for this article.