14 and handicapped

Brenda Weeks, 45, was caring for her 14 year old nephew, Joshua. It is not known what happened to the boy's parents or how Weeks came to caring for him.

But it had to have been difficult. Joshua was a paraplegic. He also had a pacemaker. Joshua used a wheelchair and was intubated. He did attend school. Also living in the home was Week's mother.

Allegedly Weeks would habitually beat Joshua for wetting the bed. On Thurs. Joshua received his last beating. According to info that is coming out in court, Weeks found a container of urine in a gym bag on Thurs. After being hit repeatedly for the infraction, it is believed to have been done with a belt, Joshua crawled to the bathroom trying to empty the container. While there, he complained of his chest hurting.

He is thought to have suffered shock or seizures there. He laid there for about an hour before a call was made to 911. He was taken to the hospital, where he later died.

Hospital officials noted about 9 fresh cuts on Joshua's right shoulder, his chest and his arm. An equal number of scars were found. An autopsy found the cause of death as multiple injuries due to assault and homicide.

In court, the prosecutor pointed out that with the pacemaker, Joshua should have been seeing a cardiologist. But that the aunt had not taken him to a cardiologist for two years.

Weeks was arrested Fri. in her nephew's death and charged with 1st degree murder. She has no known criminal history and  Department of Children and Family Services say they haven't had previous contact with the family.

During court Weeks complained of "pain from tumors" and she was going to be transferred from the jail to the hospital.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-0604300270apr30,1,2510780.story?coll=chi-newslocal-hed&ctrack=1&cset=true

Under normal conditions, a family member who takes on the care of another family member who has this degree of handicaps would be admirable. And sometimes a family member may take on that commitment, only later to find their own health to be deteriorating to the point where it is almost an impossible job.

And I agree it would be a struggle. But when it becomes impossible, you have to find some other family or an agency who can do it. "I tried" is not enough.

Being a paraplegic, Joshua was confined to a wheelchair and a bed. It is very likely that the "bed wetting" was already humiliating for him. And probably was something beyond his physical control. Certainly if the aunt had been taking him to medical appointments, an attempt could have been made to try to correct that, or perhaps they could have given her tips to make it easier to clean up. And he sure shouldn't have been punished for it.

A pacemaker indicates the child had a serious heart problem. Failure to take the child for cardiac appointments to have the problem monitored, indicates a lot of neglect.

Joshua only lived 14 years. 14 years of pain, and surgery, and probably fear for his life at times. His "payment" for surviving his physical problems, was punishment.  

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