Monday, October 8, 2012

Dad charged with killing 4-year-old son during out-of-state visitation; sent mother custody petition demanding access (Orlando, Florida)

This little boy's murder was completely unnecessary, a total travesty of justice. Once again, we have a criminal father who was coddled by the court system--AND CONTINUES TO BE CODDLED!

Dad WILFRED EXILASSE was never married to this mother, and never had a real commitment to her. The relationship ended when she became pregnant. He basically never functioned as a father to this child. 

But because of the vicious pressure exerted on mothers these days to "share" custody, Mom initially agreed to that arrangement. Almost immediately, though, it was clear that Dad was neglecting the baby during his "parenting time" and leaving him alone and unfed. 

DCF (for once) made the right call, that the boy should live with his mother. A year later, Mom moved from Florida to Colorado.

Then Daddy starts hassling Mom for out-of-state summer visitation--with a four-year-old he barely knew. He sent her a custody petition, and pressured her to send the kid back to Florida to see Dad. Mom was afraid of not complying. (Like a lot of moms in these positions, she could not afford a lawyer.)  

Within three freaking weeks, the boy suffered severe injuries that would ultimately prove fatal. 

And though the boy's death has been ruled a homicide, FLORIDA IS ONLY CHARGING KILLER DAD WITH "AGGRAVATED CHILD ABUSE," NOT MURDER.

This case totally illustrated the triumph of militant fathers rights over the rule of law, justice, or human decency. Certainly it shows how few rights mothers and children have these days. 

But I have heard from this mom before and she is a fighter. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, Felicia.

Boy's death devastates mom, lands dad in jail on abuse charges 

7:08 p.m. EST, October 7, 2012

|By Desiree Stennett, Orlando Sentinel

Felicia Lubin should have been preparing her son for his first day of kindergarten. Instead, she was at his bedside praying for his life.

Four-year-old Elijah Exilasse died Sept. 1 of complications caused by blunt-force head trauma — injuries that Orange County deputies say he received at the hands of his father, 27-year-old Wilfred Exilasse.

The story of Elijah's death is all too familiar to investigators, who have seen hundreds of children die at the hands of adults.

A state report says 136 children died in Florida in 2010 as a result of abuse or neglect, down from the 200 killed the year before.

What those statistics don't show, however, are the tragic circumstances leading up to their deaths.

In Elijah's case, Lubin sent the boy 2,000 miles away from his home in Colorado Springs at his father's insistence.

When Lubin, who didn't have a lawyer, received a court petition saying Exilasse wanted to see his son every summer and alternating holidays, she thought the document was a court order and she had no choice but to send Elijah.

 It wasn't until after Elijah's death that his mother realized that wasn't the case.

 "I was thinking I was going to get in trouble as a mother if I didn't let Elijah be with his father," said the 27-year-old mom.

The petition said the arrangement was in Elijah's best interest "because it is an effective way to ensure the child maintained an ongoing relationship with his father."

It's a relationship, Lubin said in telephone interview, that was virtually nonexistent.

Lubin and Exilasse grew up in the same church and had known each other most of their lives. Their short relationship began late in 2006. But when she announced her pregnancy in February 2007, she said, Exilasse didn't take it well.

"I thought he was the same sweet little Wilfred I knew from church," she said. "But I guess people change." The two ended their relationship after she announced she was pregnant.

After Elijah was born, the two made the informal agreement to share custody. In 2010, when he was at his father's, the boy's aunt discovered Elijah alone and crying. 

Lubin called Florida's Department of Children and Families, which determined the boy was mildly malnourished and recommended that he live with his mother.

 Lubin and Elijah moved to Colorado that year after DCF closed its investigation. Lubin sent Elijah to his father's home in May; he was hospitalized with head injuries three weeks later.

In the ambulance May 30, according to court documents, Exilasse told emergency responders he had been disciplining Elijah for not eating when the boy slipped from his hands and fell between the bathtub and sink. When investigators questioned him the next day, he said Elijah slipped off the toilet and fell to the floor while he was playing alone.

He said his son seemed fine, and they napped together. But when he could not awaken Eilijah, he called police.

Dr. Greg Olavarria, the neurosurgeon who treated Elijah at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, said both stories were "suspicious and improbable because the injuries Elijah sustained were far more severe than Exilasse had originally explained."

"That type of injury could only be caused by extreme blunt force such as a car crash, being struck by an object or being shaken," Olavarria told investigators.

Exilasse, as well as his attorney, declined interview requests from the Orlando Sentinel. Exilasse was arrested on child-abuse charges, and detectives called Lubin to tell her Elijah was near death. She was on a flight to Orlando within 24 hours.

Elijah's last days

Lubin stayed at the bedside of her unconscious son for nearly two months, and Elijah was flown to Memorial Hospital for Children in Colorado Springs on July 19.

After about four days at Memorial Hospital, Elijah opened his eyes and gave hope to his mother and his doctors. On Aug. 13, Elijah, physically responsive but still bedridden and unable to speak, was stabilized and sent home with the medical equipment he needed to survive.

His condition seemed to be improving every day until Aug. 31. Lubin said that day he seemed tired. She still recalls buying him a teddy bear and watching him hug the bear close to his body as she read to him.

That night, Elijah, who still hadn't regained the ability to speak, kissed her as she leaned down to hug him before bed. "That was the first time he kissed me since we brought him home," she said. "He was doing so well."

The next morning, a friend who had been helping her care for Elijah went into the bedroom to check on him. She quickly ran out, screaming for Lubin's help. Elijah's eyes were closed, and he wasn't breathing.

"The doctors told me, 'Felicia, you did everything you could possibly do.' He was doing so good, and then he just died."

 When he died Sept. 1, it was ruled a homicide. Exilasse was arrested again Sept. 13 — what would have been Elijah's fifth birthday.

 Prosecutors charged him with aggravated child abuse, and he was denied bail. The State Attorney's Office would not comment when asked why he wasn't charged with murder.