Sunday, April 27, 2014
Give Her Nothing, But Jail Time
A woman whose two young sons died in a bathroom flooded with scalding water while she was in a drug-induced stupor is trying to get her infant daughter back from child welfare authorities, saying she's turned her life around.
Luz Arroyo's lawyer is asking a Westchester Family Court judge to return her 2-month-old daughter, named Spiritual, from foster care, The Journal News (http://lohud.us/1rufxmz) reported in a story published Sunday. The county Child Protective Services agency took the baby from Arroyo shortly after she was born.
Arroyo, 34, pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide in the July 2005 deaths of her sons, who were under 3. District Attorney Janet DiFiore called the case "a particularly horrific crime," and it contributed to demands for better tracking of children in dangerous households.
Investigators say both boys, Elijah Santana and David Maldonado Jr., were inside a bathroom in the Yonkers apartment while Arroyo and her boyfriend were passed out in the living room. The bathroom door was damaged and difficult to open, and the youngsters fell unconscious as the room filled with steam. Burn patterns showed Elijah tried to stand on his tiptoes to avoid the hot water as it spilled out of the bathtub, prosecutors said.
Arroyo spent about two years in prison. Her then-boyfriend, David Maldonado, continues serving up to 15 years after pleading guilty to manslaughter.
Arroyo's lawyer, David Sachs, told The Journal News "she is a completely different person than she was nine years ago."
She was arrested on drug, prostitution and harassment charges after her release from prison, in 2009 and 2010, and successfully completed probation last month, according to the newspaper. Sachs said she hasn't taken drugs in years and has been successful in voluntary psychological treatment.
"Ms. Arroyo's complete reformation of every aspect of her life over the last several years is undeniable and should be viewed by our community as a success story," he said in a statement.
A county government spokesman declined to comment, as did a lawyer for Spiritual's father.
But a Yonkers detective who worked on the 2005 case has misgivings about the idea of Arroyo, who has three other children being raised by relatives, getting another chance at parenting an infant.
"Would I trust her with another baby? No. Everything was always about her," Detective James Conca said.
At a court date Tuesday, Arroyo's biweekly visits with Spiritual were increased to weekly visits.