"There are no jobs there, and the food is expensive," she says of her rural hometown. She says she would cross the border into the neighboring Mexican state of Chiapas to work as a waitress, a job that earned her 350 pesos (roughly $27) a week. 

She knew of Arizona because her uncles had come to Phoenix "to make money, and they stayed a few years before returning home."

When she arrived, she moved into an apartment with other Guatemalan immigrants. Shortly thereafter, she met Mauricio Perez, a young man also from Tajumulco. Perez had arrived in Phoenix a year before Ramos, when he was 18. He was working as a landscaper. 

Mauricio Perez holds his son and daughter, Mauricio Jr. and Kimberly.
Jamie Peachey
Mauricio Perez holds his son and daughter, Mauricio Jr. and Kimberly.
Ramos holds Kimberly for the last time before being permanently separated by the state.
Jamie Peachey
Ramos holds Kimberly for the last time before being permanently separated by the state.

Perez was raised by his grandmother and, like Ramos, came to the states to make a better living. He says that in Guatemala he earned 40 quetzal (about $5) a day working in the fields chopping crops with machetes.  

"I came here to get my family ahead," he says. 

But he soon found himself with a new family to support.  

Perez and Ramos moved in together in September 2007. She gave birth to their first child, Mauricio Jr., a year later, and Kimberly about a year after that. 

Six years later, they speak nearly no English. And neither appears to understand that their young family's fate was sealed when Mauricio Jr.'s examination revealed signs of shaken baby syndrome.

Mauricio Jr. was a happy, healthy baby who learned to walk when he was about 11 months old, his mother says. He shared a bedroom with his parents and sister but had the run of the apartment when everyone was at work. He watched cartoons and played with his toys, especially a plastic yellow fire truck and black sports car. 

Perez was working full-time while Ramos stayed home taking care of their children. She liked to swoop her son's mop of hair into a baby faux-hawk so it was just like his daddy's hair. 

They made ends meet by living a simple life and sharing the apartment with five other roommates. 

By all accounts, life was good until the evening of August 24, 2009. 

Almost two years after the night Ramos and Perez handed their injured son to ER doctors, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge severed their parental rights to both children. That means Ramos and Perez no longer have any legal right to see them, let alone ever again have custody.

In Arizona, a growing number of children are being separated permanently from their parents.

Between April and September 2006, CPS records show the courts agreed to terminate parental rights for 360 children. By comparison, during the same six-month period in 2012, there were 1,609 parental rights severed.

All told, during those seven years, New Times' analysis shows, nearly 12,000 parental rights terminations were granted.

The Arizona Child Safety Task Force, created by Governor Jan Brewer in 2011 in response to several high-profile child abuse cases, recommended that the agency "establish greater involvement of law enforcement in investigating reports of abuse."

Greater law enforcement involvement, the task force reported, will help to alleviate parental fears of children being capriciously pulled from the home and will help to preserve family rights.

"CPS is about protecting a child and keeping it with its family, if it can. But they really don't do that," says Laura Knaperek, a former state GOP lawmaker with a long history of involvement in child-welfare issues. "They're in foster care panic, removing more and more kids. But there are federal laws and guidelines for state agencies that removing a child should be the last resort."

Knaperek, now a political consultant and lobbyist, believes child removal is a way to manage the agency's image following high-profile cases in which children died at the hands of their caregivers after CPS, which was involved with those cases, did not remove the children from the homes.

"There needs to be more oversight of the agency," Knaperek tells New Times. "And you can't put your finger on anyone in particular because the whole system is so complex. And on top of that, they don't have enough foster homes, enough case workers."

The agency may get some relief in the coming years.

Brewer's 2014 state budget earmarks $69.1 million for child welfare and protection services and includes money to hire 200 additional CPS caseworkers and support staff.

Karin Kline, a former CPS worker, is now a program manager at the ASU Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy and oversees several child welfare initiatives at the center.

She says the agency, mandated by the feds in 1970, is fairly young.

"There is still so much to learn, and it's evolving as a profession," she tells New Times. "The struggles its workforce faced every day change, but there are always struggles, whether it's limited funding, not enough employees. It's a hard job, and it's always going to be a hard job."

Initially, the feds required states to operate a hotline for reports of child abuse. Since then, Kline says, there are so many more expectations.

"Before [the agency was established], families, churches, and schools addressed the issues of child abuse, but along the way, so many more demands have been shifted on the state agency," she says.

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27 comments
urineorurout
urineorurout

It blows my mind that more people aren't bothered by this kind of shit. The apathy could only be worse if it were due (even in part) to the citizenship status of the parents featured in this article. Maybe a Kardashian angle should be worked in to every hard hitting news story.        

Cozz
Cozz topcommenter

Fucking CPS, what a bunch of duchebags they are and the family courts are not any better.

None of them care about the truth, only a conviction is all that mattered in this case.

CPS needs some serious house cleaning.

dstroebel
dstroebel

All evidence points to innocence. Could what we are reading is a person in the clutches of the prison industrial complex? Google it and learn more why seemingly innocent people are sent to prison. Some judges receive as much as $30,000 for a single conviction. The US has a 99 percent prosecution rate while other countries trail far behind. Why?

ewthorne
ewthorne

I am curious as to what ethnic groups the children who taken away for good were.  Is there a breakdown of each group?

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

Nice reporting and writing.  This is exactly what I'd love to see more of from PNT

Pakrat4ever
Pakrat4ever

For years CPS has be rightly criticized for not taking appropriate steps to protect childen and they have ended up Dead; so now maybe they are going overboard to protect themselves. There seems to be a very thin line between abuse and accidents; and it looks like the Trauma doctors are becoming the Judge and the Jury, in determining the difference between the two according to the evidence of their examinations.  Sometimes things ain't what the seem; and the parents end up on the short end of the stick. Could this be one of those times?

rockymissouri1
rockymissouri1

This is OUTRAGEOUS...!! Restore the children to their parents..!! ASAP ....

APS.ie
APS.ie

In the history of SBS, thousands of cases around the world, NOBODY HAS EVER WITNESSED A BABY BEING SHAKEN TO DEATH, or even to the point where one of the Triad of symptoms has ever been demonstrated. 


Prosecutors love this, you don't need a smoking gun, witness or any evidence other than a doctor willing to state that the Triad of symptoms was present. No bruise, fracture, abrasion, neck injury from the head flopping around, no telltale thumb imprints on the baby's chest from gripping the child too firmly. How many children bounce around in Jolly Jumpers and how many die from this?

In hundreds of cases now where nannycams have caught people shaking babies, not one of these infants ever demonstrated even one of the triad of symptoms! How can this myth have survived for so long? In fact many babies developed the symptoms shortly (10 days or so) after vaccination. The Dr who originally came up with the theory no longer stands by it and testifies FOR parents. 


What do we need for science to catch up? do we need MythBusters or Hollywood to finally dispel the myth of SBS? Dr John Lloyd and others have shown conclusively that the Triad can only be demonstrated by short falls and there will be other injuries. 

The shame of this is not just the innocent grieving parents being prosecuted but also for the babies who have died. If we put this myth to bed we could find a cause and cure for SIDS. Shame on doctors who still cling to this, I hope this couple sue. Well done to Police for a job well done.

naoma
naoma

I can never understand people who hit or slap their children.  Our only child was raised without EVER being slapped, hit or beaten in any way.  Both of us agreed this was the only way to raise a child.  She is a happy and wonderful adult now and says she had the BEST CHILDHOOD of anyone she ever met.

JeremyPraay
JeremyPraay

"Amongst clinical practitioners, from pediatricians to radiologists, from the American Academy of Pediatrics to the World Health Organization, the validity of AHT as a medical diagnosis is unquestioned." 

Once again, we are met with the straw man argument.  

No one is questioning whether or not head trauma exists.  What is being questioned, is shaken baby syndrome, which is a subset of abusive head trauma.  More specifically, can a doctor can make a diagnosis of shaking based merely on the constellation of injuries, i.e. the triad?  While nearly all active physicians on both sides of this debate will say that the triad alone is never sufficient, we seem to find case, after case, after case, where people are sentenced to prison, often for decades, based on this medical finding alone.  Worse, clear signs of infection and other diseases and conditions are commonly ignored and/or considered non-contributory.

SueLuttner
SueLuttner

Commendations, Monica Alonzo and New Times editors, for your thoughtful treatment of a difficult subject.

Incredible as it seems if you haven't seen it yourself, doctors---and now social workers---trained in a flawed model of infant head injury have been over-diagnosing inflicted pediatric head trauma for three decades and counting. While the pattern of intracranial bleeding and swelling that defines shaken baby syndrome can result from abuse, it can also reflect any of a long and growing list of legitimate medical conditions, including accidental injury. I am grateful to the handful of brave doctors and alert journalists who are bringing light to this dark arena.

For the story of one family torn apart when their son's genetic disorder was misdiagnosed as a shaking injury, please see http://onsbs.com/prologue/

totenkopf.andy
totenkopf.andy

Who cares? illegals are illegal. Look how much money they have cost US taxpayers already.

ConcernedCitizenAZ
ConcernedCitizenAZ topcommenter

Arizona is years behind the nation in their justice system which is controlled by prosecutors who  do not believe anyone is innocent. Driven by "presumed guilty". 

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-02-06-baby-sitter-freed_N.htm


"WIS. WOMAN FREED IN SHAKEN BABY CASE" "

Posted 2/6/2008 5:52 PM By Morry Gash, APAudrey Edmunds, 46, pictured in a minimum-security prison, has been freed by a judge in a shaken-baby syndrome case. New research may support her innocence.

By Ryan J. Foley, Associated Press WriterMADISON, Wis. — A former child care provider sent to prison more than a decade ago in the fatal shaking of a baby was freed Wednesday, six days after an appeals court ruled the latest research into shaken baby syndrome might prove her innocence.

Audrey Edmunds, 46, walked out of a minimum security prison in Waupun and plans to move to the Minneapolis area to be near her three adolescent daughters, her lawyer said.

Friends who have long insisted Edmunds was innocent said they were thrilled by her release — even though she still might face another trial or an appeal that could send her back.

"I'm overjoyed," said Patti Larson, a former neighbor who used to take walks with Edmunds every morning. "She's finally getting out of there."

Edmunds' release came after an appeals court overturned her 1996 conviction and ordered a new trial. The court said new research into shaken baby syndrome presents alternate theories on what happened to 7-month-old Natalie Beard after she was dropped off at Edmunds' in-home day care in Waunakee.

At the trial, Edmunds testified the baby was in good health when dropped off on Oct. 16, 1995. Edmunds said Natalie quickly became fussy and she left her in a bedroom in a car seat with a propped bottle after unsuccessfully trying to console her.

She said she later heard the baby stop crying and found her limp with liquid coming out of her nose and mouth. She called 911 but the baby was pronounced dead hours later at a hospital.

A defense expert testified the baby was violently shaken but before she was dropped off at Edmunds' home, where a seizure resulted in her death. Edmunds' lawyers now say they have no way of knowing how the baby died but it could have been the result of a seizure, from choking on formula or by an infection.

In 1997, Edmunds was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Prosecutors were considering whether to appeal to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, retry the case or drop it. They have contended the baby died as a result of violent shaking by Edmunds or shaking combined with impact that caused a fatal head injury.

The appeals court said a fierce debate has developed over whether babies can be killed by shaking alone, how long they can live with traumatic head injuries and whether symptoms similar to those associated with shaking can be caused by other factors.

The court said a jury should hear the competing arguments from experts and decide again whether Edmunds is guilty.

Circuit Judge Daniel Moeser granted Edmunds' release after a brief hearing and said she can remain free pending further appeal in the case or a new trial.

"Thank you very much," Edmunds told the judge via telephone from the prison in Waupun, 60 miles northeast of Madison."


918thor
918thor

@APS.ie yes, I think we need crash test dummies for babies to disprove the shaken baby syndrome. The boy had a skull fracture. That sounds like a fall to me. You don't get that from being shaken.

canofworms
canofworms

@APS.ie Nobody has witnessed a baby being shaken to death?? Yes because most people don't want their murders being recorded. You're an IDIOT. Constant shaking of a baby, causing the head to snap back and forth is extremely harmful and studies have shown FATAL in some circumstances. Go ahead and shake YOUR baby, moron. 

APS.ie
APS.ie

@naoma maybe you should read that article before posting. It has nothing to do with slapping or child abuse.

rockymissouri1
rockymissouri1

And how many times have social workers left children in the care of TOTALLY ABUSIVE parents, and who should have been removed....to THIS FARCE, of the complete opposite, and destroying a young family in the process.!!

DWorkman
DWorkman

While I will not resort to name calling since thats childish and extreme - not to mention has no place here or in any adult conversation - I will say that your comment was neither helpful or needed and completely ignorant. Judgements like THAT are part of the problem..

DWorkman
DWorkman

Thats why they have changed their theory from SBS to Abusive Head Trauma AND shaking. Their learning... They know that this theory cannot stand much longer. Does shaking hurt a baby? Most definitely. Is it the cause of many of these injuries? No way. This is destroying families who are already hurting and confused. How tragic.

APS.ie
APS.ie

@918thor @APS.ie  The research proves that the Triad can only be produced by short falls or the vaccination. In the video you see a child shaking himself and producing the same forces wrongly believed to produce shearing of the bridging veins. The SBS Brigade have a mannequin that claim miniscule forces cause the Triad. 


Mythbusters should build a jumper device and put their mannequin in it while Dr Lloyd and others measure the forces. Compare this to a baby bouncing themselves and I believe the myth of SBS would be BUSTED!

Dr Lloyd is an expert in Biomechanical studies, he has also raised concerns that football helmets protect the skull and not the brain. If SBS were possible the boxing would certainly produce the Triad as would most sports. He also has done some great work for the government with car crash safety. 

Having read many post mortems from these cases, it is despicable that a grieving parent can be accused on the flimsiest evidence. Lives are destroyed from this junk science and babies are dying of SIDS because many believe this myth of SBS. 

In Ireland for example, in a decade there were 21 cases of SBS. Only one resulted in a prosecution and in that case there was a skull fracture, bruises and broken bones, AND an admission of guilt. You can bet in the other 20 cases that children were wrongly removed from grieving parents. 


It's time to put the myth of SBS to the scrapheap of junk science.

dstroebel
dstroebel

@canofworms @APS.ie Lets see. You said most people don't want their murders recorded, but you seeming left out spouses that hide nanny cams to catch their spouse/nanny/babysitter abusing their children and this is well documented in the media. Wrongful convictions exists and documented court evidence corroborates this fact. You will not understand until someone you know is wrongfully convicted-possible you too. Google, "wrongful shaken baby convictions," read testimonies from actual doctors who say SBS was not diagnosed, yet family services are notified and prosecutors manufacture false and misleading statements to secure a conviction-and prison sentence. It happens every day. Read, read , read...

naoma
naoma

@APS.ie @naoma   I am aware that the baby "fell off the bed."  I never said it was slapped nor hit -- just my assessment of how I raised my one child without any slapping or hitting.  I do not know how anyone can shake a baby.  

DWorkman
DWorkman

Wow. 1000 to 8000... Pretty large gap!

 
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