Thursday, May 2, 2013

Dad pleads guilty to capital murder in 2-year-old son's death; slit boy's throat during visitation to avoid child support (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Killer dad DANNY PRATT was really nothing more than a sperm donor, a piece of sh** that Mom dated only briefly.

But because we grant donors all the full rights and responsibilities of fathers, this piece of sh** was on the hook for child support. In fact, Mom was REQUIRED to give his name if she was to get food stamps.

So of course, the sh** gets visitation too. And this is what happens.

We need to stop giving rights to sperm donors. The only donors who should have rights are the ones who are legally married to the mother and committed to providing for a family. Period.

And then we need to start funding social services at acceptable levels. This is crap.

New Orleans father pleads guilty to capital murder for slitting 2-year-old son's throat

By Claire Galofaro, | The Times-Picayune on May 02, 2013 at 11:17 AM, updated May 02, 2013 at 2:17 PM

A 26-year-old man pleaded guilty to capital murder in Criminal District Court Thursday morning, admitting that he slit his 2-year-old son's throat to avoid paying $4,000 in overdue child support. Danny Platt accepted a life prison sentence. The only promise prosecutor Robert Moore made him was that the state would not seek to execute him.

"He liked to laugh a lot," the boy's mother, Daniella Powell, said of her boy. "He told me he loved me all day long. He was fun. And he can finally rest now."

Powell said that she agreed to the life sentence. Nobody, she believes, deserves to be killed, even the man who killed her son.

Ja'Shawn Powell adored his father, whom he visited on occasional weekends.

On the evening of Jan. 2, 2009, Platt came to pick the boy up for a visit. The toddler ran to the door, excited to see his daddy. Powell kissed him goodbye, and never saw him alive again.

Just before midnight, Platt took the boy to a park on Jackson Avenue, according to court records.

"He and his son sat on a bench and began talking to each other," the warrant for his arrest reads. "Mr. Platt suddenly grabbed his son and slashed his throat with a box cutter." Danny Platt pleaded guilty Thursday to first-degree murder for slitting his 2-year-old son's throat. He accepted a life prison sentence and avoided possible death.

Platt called Powell and told her that a woman had snatched the baby from his arms and ran. Then he called the police.

He told officers that a black SUV pulled up beside them, and three men with dreadlocks and AK-47s forced him and the boy onto the ground, according to court records. They called him "Johnny" and demanded money, he told officers. When he told the gunmen that he wasn't Johnny, they grabbed the child and sped away. Police issued a nationwide Amber Alert for the child.

But Platt's story stopped making sense. Officers noticed that he seemed "emotionless" and "did not appear concerned that his child was missing."

Police grew suspicious. His story changed -- the number of gunmen increased from three to four. He told obvious lies, that he didn't know his own mother's address, and that his cell phone was stolen by his attackers. He couldn't spell his own son's name.

He told detectives that his son's mother was "money hungry."

"Them people aren't worried about that child, they just want money," he said to officers. "I tell you think, they'll never see the $4,000 I owe them after today."

The child's mother said she knew Pratt her whole life and dated him only briefly, but got pregnant. The boy was born on Valentine's Day, 2006.

Powell applied for food stamps, which required that she identify his biological father. His paternity was confirmed with a blood test. The state deducted $100 a week from his paychecks from a French Quarter restaurant he cleaned.

Platt reportedly threatened Powell over his child-support debt of $4,000, vowing that he would kill them before paying it.

Ja'Shawn's 2-year-old body was found in a gym bag on Jan. 2, 2009, near a Central City playground in the 1900 block of Jackson Avenue. His throat had been slashed and he bled to death, the coroner said.

"I'm sorry about killing my baby," he told reporters as detectives led him to Central Lockup in 2009. "I had a lot of pressure on me ... I had a whole bunch of reasons."

Platt was charged with first-degree murder, and prosecutors filed their notice to seek the death penalty. In Louisiana, prosecutors must cite the aggravating circumstances to make a murder a capital case. They listed the "especially heinous, atrocious, cruel or depraved" nature of the killing, and that the victim was a child.

Platt, for a time, was found incompetent to proceed to trial and admitted to the East Louisiana Mental Health System for treatment. But after several months there, he was released, and doctors wrote the court that they believed he was faking a mental disorder. He lied, they wrote, that he did not know his own birthdate, or understand the charges he was facing.

As the capital case against him resumed, he "mainly stared at the floor," according to court records. He spoke little, "appearing depressed and less than cooperative." Platt dropped out of high school in the ninth grade because he wanted to do drugs and "hang on the streets," court records state. Through chronic drug abuse can influence mental health, doctors wrote, they never found any evidence of delusions or psychosis.

District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro said Platt was one of a half-dozen defendants in the last decade to plead guilty to first-degree murder and accept a life sentence. No one has been sent to death row from Orleans Parish since the 1990s.

Cannizzaro said the plea deal, which avoids the possibility of a decades-long appeals process in a capital case, was the best resolution for Platt's case.

"When a child is killed, it's always a very sad, a very difficult situation, even for us," Cannizzaro said. "This is a final solution. There is no appeal. He admits he is guilty. And the family does not have to relive these very horrible events."

Judge Keva Landrum-Johnson imposed the life sentence, without the possibility of parole. Powell said that she is glad her 4-year nightmare is ended. "I don't understand why, I will never understand why," she said. "I'll move forward now, but I can never move on."

Powell carried a photo of her son, sticking out his tongue at the camera.

She used to ask her boy how much he loved her, she told the judge. He would stretch his arms out straight and say, "Mommy, this much."

She fell against the wall and wept as she left the courtroom.