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In Re R.R. and K.R v. Anna R. Honorable

May 3, 2011

IN RE R.R. AND K.R.,
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,
v.
ANNA R. HONORABLE RESPONDENT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of the Tenth Judicial Circuit Minors Peoria County, Illinois Richard D. McCoy Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Lytton

JUSTICE LYTTON delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

Justices Holdridge and McDade concurred with the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

Anna R. is the mother of R.R. and K.R. When R.R. was just over a month old, he was diagnosed with a skull fracture. As a result, the State filed juvenile petitions, alleging that R.R. and K.R. were neglected due to an injurious environment. Following a hearing, the trial court found R.R. and K.R. to be neglected minors. Thereafter, the court found Anna R. unfit, made R.R. and K.R. wards of the court and placed them in the guardianship of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Anna R. appeals, arguing that the trial court's neglect and unfitness findings are against the manifest weight of the evidence. We affirm.

Anna R. is the mother of R.R., who was born on February 19, 2010, and K.R., who was born on January 27, 2006. She is married to Ryan R., who is the father of both R.R. and K.R.

On February 24, 2010, at a doctor's visit, Anna R. mentioned that R.R.'s lips had turned blue three times the day before. R.R.'s doctor instructed Anna R. to take R.R. to the hospital. R.R. was admitted to Saint Francis Medical Center on February 24, 2010. An MRI of R.R.'s brain was performed on February 27, 2010. It showed a right frontal hemorrhage and posterior subdural hematomas. A skeletal survey performed on March 1, 2010, showed no skull fractures. R.R. was released from the hospital on March 1, 2010, with a diagnosis of apnea. Another skeletal survey was performed on March 11, 2010, which showed no skull fractures.

On March 23, 2010, Anna R. brought R.R. back to Saint Francis Medical Center for increased episodes of apnea. An MRI of R.R.'s brain was performed on March 25, 2010. It showed new areas of injury to the left and right temporal lobes. A skeletalsurvey was performed on March 26, 2010. It showed a skull fracture. R.R. was then referred to the Pediatric Resource Center.

On April 5, 2010, the State filed juvenile petitions alleging that K.R. and R.R. were neglected minors in that their environment was injurious to their welfare because (1) R.R. was diagnosed with a skull fracture and brain bleeds on March 23, 2010, which could not have occurred absent abuse or neglect on the part of the caretaker, (2) following R.R.'s diagnosis, R.R.'s mother and father repeatedly told authorities that they did not know how R.R. was injured, and then on March 30, 2010, reported that R.R.'s head hit a door while being held by his father, (3) R.R. was diagnosed with a brain bleed and bruising to his back on February 23, 2010, (4) Ryan R. committed domestic violence against Anna R. on two occasions in 2006 when K.R. was present, and (5) Ryan R. had a criminal record that included burglary, consumption of alcohol by a minor and possession of drug paraphernalia.

On April 26, 2010, Anna R. filed an answer to the juvenile petition, stipulating that the State would call witnesses at adjudication who would support all of the allegations contained in the petition. However, she denied causing any injury to R.R. She also stated that she did not think that R.R. "hitting his head on the door was serious enough to mention" and that she was "trying to cooperate." Finally, she denied seeing any bruising on R.R.'s back on February 23, 2010.

An adjudicatory hearing was held on June 10, 2010. At the hearing, the State entered into evidence medical records from Saint Francis Medical Center that showed R.R. had brain bleeds on February 27, 2010, but no skull fracture as of March 11, 2010. A March 25, 2010, MRI showed new areas of injury to R.R.'s brain, and a skeletal survey performed on March 26, 2010, showed a skull fracture.

The State also introduced the report of Dr. Channing Petrak, a physician at the Pediatric Resource Center. After physically examining R.R. and reviewing his medical records and other investigatory information, she concluded that the hemorrhage and hematomas shown on R.R.'s February 27, 2010, MRI could have been "due to birth." However, she found that the new injuries to R.R. shown on the March 25, 2010, MRI were "clearly not due to birth trauma." She found that they "were inflicted and due to abusive head trauma." Additionally, she opined that R.R.'s skull fracture was "inflicted." Dr. Petrak noted in her report that Anna R. told police that she bumped R.R.'s head on a plastic laundry basket and that Ryan R. told police that he accidentally bumped R.R.'s head on the edge of a door. Dr. Petrak found that "[n]either of these histories explains Ryan's head injuries."

The State argued that R.R.'s injuries "could not have happened absent abuse and neglect on the part of the caretaker because these were intentionally inflicted on this minor." The guardian ad litem, Linda Groezinger, said that she did not know if R.R.'s injuries were intentional or accidental and, thus, could not ask the court to find abuse or neglect.

Anna R. and Ryan R. denied inflicting any injuries on R.R. Anna R. argued that R.R.'s brain injuries, including his skull fracture, could have been accidental. The court ruled that based on Dr. Petrak's report, it had no choice but to find "environmental neglect" by Anna R. and Ryan R. because of ...


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