ROTTERDAM, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office is reporting the arrest of two foster parents following the death of a 4-year-old in their care.
Albany County’s Family Court had ordered Charles Garay, 4, and his 5-year-old brother to be removed from their biological parents’ custody. The county’s Child Protective Services placed the boys in foster care at Dequan and Latrisha Greene’s home in September.
Although the Greenes were certified foster parents by Schenectady County’s Department of Social Services, their only previous experience was fostering a single child for a day. They have three daughters of their own, all under the age of 5.
On December 20, police, paramedics, and the firefighters all responded to a 911 call reporting Charlie in respiratory distress at a Rotterdam residence on Broadway. He was not breathing, and paramedics could not revive him. He was pronounced dead at Ellis Hospital.
Mr. Greene, 27, told first responders that Charlie fell out of a child’s chair, began slurring his speech, and passed out. Police say he told others that the child choked. Instead of calling 911, he called his wife, who was out running errands. Mrs. Greene ultimately called 911 for help after returning home.
Rotterdam Police say Mrs. Greene texted her husband from Ellis Hospital shortly after speaking to police about Charlie’s death, asking him to clean the house.
Medical investigators say Charlie died from extensive internal injuries to his liver and intestines caused by blunt force trauma. His surviving older brother was taken from the Greenes and treated at Albany Medical Center for his injuries including bruises, abrasions, and a torn frenulum.
Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney said in a written statement:
“In a well-intentioned effort to keep these two little boys safe, they were placed in a foster home in which they were subjected to cruelty, violence, and in the case of Charlie, death at age four. Most cases present difficulties and stresses; this one is heartbreaking. Our primary focus is to prosecute the person now charged with killing Charlie, but secondarily questions about how this could have happened are legitimate areas of inquiry for my office to explore. We do believe that Charlie’s brother is now in an environment where he is safe, loved, and cared for.”
A grand jury heard evidence presented by prosecutors, and their indictment charged Mr. Greene with:
- Two counts of second-degree murder
- First-degree manslaughter
- Second-degree assault
- Two counts of endangering the welfare of a child
The grand jury handed up the indictment Thursday, and a warrant was signed for Mr. Greene’s arrest. Police arrested Mr. Greene Thursday night. The indictment was unsealed and Green arraigned on Friday, when he pleaded not guilty. He is currently held at Schenectady County Correctional Facility.
According to a press release from the Schenectady County District Attorney’s office, one murder charge is for intentionally causing Charlie’s death, and the other is for “acting with depraved indifference to human life while recklessly engaging in conduct which created a grave risk of serious physical injury to a person less than eleven years old, thereby causing the death of that child,” police said. The manslaughter charge is for “intent to cause physical injury to a child less than eleven, recklessly engag[ing] in conduct which created a grave risk of serious physical injury to that child and thereby caused his death.”
Police say the assault and child endangerment charges are for the injuries inflicted on Charlie’s brother. All told, these charges could carry multiple life sentences if Greene is convicted, according to maximum state sentencing guidelines.
Police also arrested Mrs. Greene on Friday, charging her for tampering with physical evidence and endangering the welfare of a child.
Though the Greene residence is located in Schenectady County, the boys were under the jurisdiction of the Albany County Department of Social Services. Based upon the criminal charges, Schenectady County’s Social Services has also opened an investigation into child abuse at the Greenes’.
According to Schenectady County, their certification included passing multiple criminal background checks and submitting references. The Greenes reportedly satisfied every requirement for certification at quarterly visits from Social Services, as well.
Schenectady County’s Social Services released a statement saying that they will not provide any further details about their investigation. They say they do not want to interfere with law enforcement’s criminal investigation that’s already underway.