In Massachusetts, the stepfather of 14-year-old Haleigh Poutre was sentenced to 12 – 15 years in state prison for his role in a near fatal 2005 beating that left the girl in a coma and with a permanent brain injury. Jason Strickland, 34, was convicted of two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, two counts of assault and battery on a child with substantial injury, and one count of assault and battery. He was acquitted of one count of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
Strickland and his late wife Holli had adopted Haleigh from Allison Avrett, who is Holli’s sister. Avrett signed over her parental rights to the couple because she was suffering from mental health issues and drug abuse.
Massachusetts prosecutors charged the couple with beating the then 11-year-old. Only Strickland’s case was tried in court, however, as Holli later died, along with her grandmother, in a suicide-murder.
During the trial, Strickland said he noticed that Haleigh had a number of wounds on her body, but he believed Holli when she told him that Haleigh’s wounds were self-inflicted. Over a period of five years, the girl’s doctors, state social workers, and therapists also believed Holli’s explanation and dismissed concerns expressed by teachers and neighbors that Haleigh was the victim of abuse.
While the jury believed that Strickland wasn’t there during the last beating, they believe he allowed the abuse to happen when he left Haleigh alone with Holli. Strickland’s criminal defense attorney is appealing the jury’s criminal verdict. Strickland’s mother, Bobbi says her son is being used as a scapegoat-especially as social workers and doctors also missed signs that Haleigh was an abuse victim.
Haleigh now lives in a Boston rehabilitation home. Her beating injuries placed her at the center of a Massachusetts right-to-die case when state child welfare officials sought to remove her feeding tube when it did not seem like she would recover from her coma. Not long after, Haleigh began to show signs of improvement.
Stepdad Jason Strickland gets 12-15 years in Haleigh Poutre case, Boston Herald, December 18, 2008
Jason Strickland Convicted of Beating Stepdaughter, CBS3, November 26, 2008
Related Web Resource:
Haleigh Poutre, USA Today
The General Laws of Massachusetts
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