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Failed to Death: Joslyn Asberry

2:45 PM, Nov 19, 2012   |    comments
Joslyn Asberry
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  • Age: 3 yrs.
    Born: Feb 16, 2004
    Died: Feb 1, 2008
    Location: Denver
    Suspect in death: Alex Ortiz, boyfriend of mother

    Joslyn Asberry was wearing five barrettes the night she died - two pink, one white, one brown and one orange. For every barrette, the coroner found three scrapes, bruises or cuts on the 3-year-old's 28-pound body.

    She had been pushed - maybe thrown - by her mother's boyfriend into a television set Feb. 1, 2008. She stopped breathing, and then he waited an hour before calling for help.

    Joslyn had been waiting for help most of her life. A year earlier, the Denver Department of Human Services noticed belt marks on one of Joslyn's sisters from beatings administered by her mother, Keyona Gadison. She was sentenced to a year of supervised probation, but the children, five girls, were left in her care by caseworkers who believed she had sufficiently cooperated with the investigation and was on her way to improving as a parent.

    At the time, questions were raised about Gadison's boyfriend, Alex Ortiz, then 31, whose track record with police stretched back 12 years and included arrests for assault, domestic violence and drug possession, according to state records. Gadison said he did not live at her home.

    Five months later, a therapist reported seeing Gadison pinch Joslyn's sister during an appointment. Caseworkers determined that the report was unfounded. A state review of Joslyn's death said the case was closed after interviews with the family, the child and staff at the clinic, but it offered no details as to why the report was discounted by caseworkers.

    Caseworkers failed to follow up with the family's progress. The state later found that caseworkers should have more aggressively determined Ortiz's role with the children and documented it for supervisors.

    But none of those mistakes were noticed until Joslyn was dead. When Denver police officers questioned Ortiz that morning, he said the little girl fell. Then he said someone else may have entered the home and hurt Joslyn, according to police records.

    One of Joslyn's sisters, who was sleeping in the same room, told police that Ortiz "threw Joslyn."

    When police leaned more heavily on Ortiz during a second interview, he told them he pushed Joslyn, causing her to hit her head on the TV. Ortiz admitted he made two phone calls and waited an hour before he called 911.

    Joslyn died of multiple blunt-force injuries. Ortiz pleaded guilty to child abuse resulting in death and was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

    Read the Arrest Affidavit

    Read the Fatality Review

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