Todd County judge sentences brother to 50 years in 9-year-old's death

State ignored abuse concerns about girl

bestep@herald-leader.comNovember 24, 2011 

A Todd County teen who admitted brutally beating his 9-year-old sister to death was sentenced Wednesday to 50 years in prison.

Garrett Dye, 18, did not make a statement in court about why he killed Amy Dye.

Dye's case has drawn widespread attention because of a judge's finding that state caseworkers ignored or failed to properly investigate repeated claims that Amy had been abused before her death.

The case has brought calls by legislators and child advocates to look into the social-services system and make changes.

Before Amy was killed, school officials had reported concerns more than half a dozen times about her being abused, state records show.

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services concluded there was no need to monitor the family, however, because Amy's brothers were responsible for the alleged abuse, not a caregiver.

Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd said in a ruling this month that those decisions were incorrect.

If a sibling hurts another sibling and a parent does not prevent it, that could constitute neglect by the parent under state law, Shepherd said.

The case involving Amy is one of two in recent weeks in which Shepherd has ordered the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to release records about children with whom the cabinet had been involved who died or nearly died as a result of abuse or neglect.

The cabinet has routinely refused to release such files.

During Wednesday's sentencing, Todd Circuit Judge Tyler Gill said the state's failure to protect Amy was no surprise to those familiar with the cabinet, according to the Todd County Standard newspaper.

"It's been known for years to be a dysfunctional institution, and there is anger about this, and that anger is justified," Gill said. "I'm just hoping this anger is focused at fixing the dysfunctional system that is supposed to protect the innocent. It didn't work. It doesn't work and it hasn't worked for a long time."

The cabinet approved a request in 2006 by Garrett Dye's mother, Kimberly, to adopt Amy, who had been physically and sexually abused before being removed from her biological mother.

Garrett Dye bludgeoned Amy with the metal handle of a hydraulic jack in the driveway of their home on Feb. 4. The two were shoveling gravel into potholes at the time as punishment.

A friend later told police that Garrett Dye had an anger problem, according to the court file.

Dye entered a conditional guilty plea, which will allow him to appeal the issue of whether Gill should have thrown out his confession to police. He could get a new trial if he wins that appeal.

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