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 prison
Beth 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.
Oklahoma's Children: Dying Too Young