B.S. v. Department of Children and Families, 2016 WL 6781614 (Fla. 4th DCA)

Mother and Father moved for rehearing and a written opinion. The Fourth District Court of Appeal (Fourth DCA) denied the request for a rehearing but granted the request for a written opinion. The Fourth DCA affirmed termination of the parents’ rights.

Evidence was presented at the trial court that an infant child of the parents was found buried in the parents’ backyard. The medical examiner testified the child was a victim of homicide. There was conflicting evidence as to which parent had physical care of the child at the time of the child’s death. Mother did not report the child’s absence for over a year. The court found that neither parent was credible, that they acted in concert in the child’s death and cover-up.

Mother cited to M.C. v. Department of Children and Families, 186 So. 3d 74 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2016) for support of her request for a rehearing. The Fourth DCA distinguished the case from the facts at issue. In M.C. there was no direct evidence of whom or what caused injury to the child and the mother immediately sought care for the child’s injuries. In this case, the medical examiner testified that the child’s death was by violent means and not an accident. Even if there was no direct evidence that Mother murdered her child, she hid his disappearance for over a year. The failure to account for her child’s safety constituted egregious conduct that threatened the safety of her other children.

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