Maybe She Should Have Known ... But She Didn't

Marion A. Boggs III and Clara Boggs*

ABSTRACT: Mothers are being accused — and convicted — of child abuse committed by the father.  In some cases, the mother may have had knowledge of the abuse but was fearful to report it.  In others, she may have had incomplete knowledge of the abuse or misinterpreted the signs of the abuse.  In this case, Kriseya Labastida had no knowledge of the abuse by Michael Strawser, the father, which led to the death of their infant son.  Strawser confessed to the killing, testified to Labastida's innocence, and said that he hid his actions and deceived her.  No one, including the prosecution, maintained there was evidence of abuse on her part.  Yet she was convicted of second degree murder and child neglect because "she must have known."1

Case Summary

Kriseya Labastida was joyful at knowing she was going to have a child with Michael Strawser.2  She attempted a home birth, but after many hours of labor, they went to the hospital, where, on November 20, 1992, their son, Thunder, was born — healthy in all respects.  She was thrilled to be a mother for the first time and adjusted every aspect of her life around her baby.  Although Michael had shared her excitement before the birth, Kriseya (in retrospect) said she felt that he became jealous and withdrawn after the birth.

All vestiges of a normal life fell apart on Jan. 9, 1993.  While Kriseya was holding her baby, he suddenly stopped breathing.  In a terrified panic, she called 911.  She was so distraught that she was asked to put Michael on the phone for instructions.  Kriseya ran to another room to call her parents, crying and shrieking, "Pray!"  Their roommate, Kevin Hughes, ran outside to meet the ambulance.  Kriseya's son was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Michael, Kriseya, and Kevin were taken to the police station for questioning.  There, Kriseya, in a state of shock and disbelief from her child's death, first learned that her baby had been abused.3  Kriseya was jailed on charges of child neglect.  Three days later, with no further evidence, she was also charged with first degree murder and child abuse.  In her grief over Thunder's death, Kriseya could not even comprehend what was happening.4  A few months later District Attorney Dorothy Nash Holmes announced that she would seek the death penalty for Kriseya.

At a pretrial hearing, Mills Lane, a respected Reno district judge who had been subpoenaed to testify for Kriseya, said that for a person to be accused of murder in such a manner, the suspect had to either abuse the child herself or encourage someone else to do so.  He testified that, "I think what you have to have is something more than simple neglect — more than simply sitting and doing nothing."5  But Judge James Stone either missed or misinterpreted the main point of Lane's testimony and denied the motion.6  Dick Gammick, the Deputy District Attorney at the time of Kriseya's arrest who had only charged her with neglect, was also subpoenaed.  However, District Attorney Holmes successfully blocked his testimony by invoking "attorney-client privilege."

Before Michael and Kriseya's trial in January, 1994, Michael pled guilty.  He credited his recent Christian conversion for moving him to testify that he knowingly deceived Kriseya.  He testified that she did nothing to hurt her baby and did not know what he was doing.  But District Attorney Holmes maintained Michael was covering for Kriseya, implying that they were still emotionally involved with one another.

Holmes argued that Kriseya not only must have known but that she, in fact, did know of the abuse and was, in fact, an active accomplice.  Her hypotheses changed frequently and, by the time of the trial, there were claims that the abuse was part of a satanic ritual in which Kriseya continually offered Thunder up to Michael again and again.7

Before the trial, Kriseya's attorneys repeatedly warned her that a jury would never believe she did not know of the abuse, and argued her out of testifying, claiming that Holmes would discredit her or use her own testimony against her.  They also failed to call the roommate, Kevin Hughes, as a witness, although he would have testified that he noticed no signs of abuse and did not suspect Michael of abusing the baby.

Holmes' uncontested false statements of fact and courtroom dramatics drew the jury's attention to the gruesome details of the abuse.  Each day she rolled in a cart of items.  On it was an oversized deck of tarot cards, presumably to suggest to the jurors that Kriseya's work was linked to occult ideas.  Also on the cart was a life-sized baby doll, which Holmes held to her breast saying, "How can anyone believe this defendant could nurse her baby day after day and not see any injuries?"  She uttered a sob as she spoke to the jury about Kriseya's baby.  We believe that the jurors, inflamed by the details and Holmes' dramatics, but not given the evidence that Kriseya was unaware of the abuse, were unable to rationally assess Kriseya's portion of responsibility.  The jury's confusion was evident in its verdict: innocent of abuse and murder-1, yet guilty of neglect and murder-2.

Judge Stone's rulings consistently sided with the prosecution.  At the sentencing, prior to any testimony, he announced that his mind was already made up.  He sentenced Kriseya to the maximum possible — consecutive terms of life with parole for second degree murder and 20 years for neglect.

Indicting Evidence

Four state witnesses were called, but the one whose testimony had the most impact was that of Dr. Ellen Clark, who performed the autopsy.  In articulate medical jargon, she detailed the injuries, postulating likely methods of infliction and times of occurrence.  According to her, most of the abuse occurred during the last two weeks of Thunder's seven-week life.  He had broken bones, bites, scratches and other injuries that could accurately be described as torture.  "In my opinion, Thunder Strawser died of multiple injuries and (long-term) child abuse," Clark testified.8  She said, however, that the immediate cause of death was a puncture in the esophagus which allowed air to escape from the lungs, causing suffocation.  This fatal wound was apparently inflicted the night before Thunder died.  Forensic evidence of the bite marks showed them to be either Michael's or inconclusive.

Color photographs of Thunder's injuries left the impression that the existence and the non-accidental nature of the injuries should have been obvious to anyone seeing the child at the time the photos were taken.  The differences between the appearance of injuries in a live body compared with the same injuries in a photograph hours after death was never adequately explored.

Why Didn't She Know?

There are a variety of different reasons for Kriseya's total inability to see what was happening to her child.  She was fatigued and not eating properly.  She was focused on colic as the cause of Thunder's distress which blinded her to other possibilities.  The apartment, which failed a housing inspection soon afterwards, was so dark and cold that Thunder was kept continually bundled.  Kriseya's extreme naiveté, trust in people, and tendency to minimize problems was observed and confirmed in a psychological evaluation.  She was completely deceived by Michael Strawser, whom she loved and who reassured and misdirected her about what was happening.

Kriseya did not see her baby as he looked at the time the photos were taken.  She never saw him in a brightly lit laboratory.  Her perception of her son's condition therefore was not the same as the perception of someone viewing the photos.9  According to Kirk Clark, the anatomical embalmer at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, the process of lividity (purple stains) is more evident as time passes.  Deep bruises may take longer to appear, and might not be apparent in a live body until many hours later, but in death would be more apparent.10  Kevin Hughes, the friend who lived with them the last few weeks of Thunder's life, was at home often enough to diaper the baby a few times during those last days.  He noticed no physical signs of abuse, which also suggests that the physical signs were not as visually obvious as the autopsy photographs would lead one to believe.

Kriseya firmly believed that her son's "colic" was his whole problem, and she gave herself fully to finding solutions to it — herbal teas, rocking, changes of diet, Mylocon drops, soothing music, swinging chair, simple holding.  She sought help from the La Leche League, calling them frequently.  In no way could she be called "negligent" in that regard.  Thunder, as was attested to by the coroner, was well fed, not malnourished by an uncaring mother.

Kriseya was completely deceived by Michael Strawser.  People victimized by a false diagnosis of multiple personality disorder or who develop pseudo-memories of childhood abuse have later observed how easily they were misled by their therapists and ushered into a world of unreality.11  Kriseya was a similar victim of false ideas implanted over a period of time.  Michael capitalized on her love for him and her naive trust and gullibility.  It is now apparent that Michael was deeply disturbed and that his use of alcohol and LSD exacerbated whatever problems he had.  (A reading of his letters from jail reveal much which even an untrained person would recognize as being greatly "off.")  But no one realized this at the time of Thunder's birth.

Kriseya was beginning to question some things, but not in time.  On the day before Thunder's death, Kriseya called her mother.  She said she had a cold and that Thunder might have one, and then asked, "Mom, I wonder if I'm too 'clutchy'?"  When asked why, she said, "Well, I think Michael is too rough when he plays with my baby, and I don't want him to.  Does it just take longer for men to be more sensitive?"  The reply was, "Yes, honey, often it does."

In retrospect, with the advantage of hindsight, and considering Kriseya's conversations with the woman from the La Leche League (who testified about Kriseya's telephone calls and concerns), it is obvious Kriseya was groping in the dark.  But with reassurance from both her mother and the La Leche League, along with Michael's deliberate misdirection, Kriseya was in the position of those hapless people sometimes featured in movies who learn from a malevolent mate to believe they are crazy.

Kriseya's Physical Condition

Lack of sleep and overall fatigue are fairly normal conditions for any parent who must feed her newborn at least every one or two hours.  Kriseya's fatigue was aggravated because she continued to work as a tarot card phone counselor from her home.  She was also suffering from a cold, which may have further decreased her alertness.

Kriseya was breast feeding Thunder, further draining her energy reserves.  According to the La Leche League, breast feeding releases prolactin, a hormone which allows the milk to come down when a baby is sucking.  It also relaxes and calms the mother.  But at the same time, a breast feeding mother needs extra calories to compensate for breast feeding, along with extra rest to recover from the delivery.

The fact that Kriseya was breast feeding also led her to seek solutions for Thunder's "colic" in her own diet.  She consulted her herbal books and health food store personnel, and became persuaded that her diet could play an important part in his healing.  She drank lots of fruit juices and herbal teas, including "skullcap."  Although skullcap has sedative effects, Kriseya didn't realize it would affect her alertness.  She was also unaware that she was severely hypoglycemic (as a later hair analysis revealed12) and that relying on fruit juices for much of her caloric intake aggravated this condition, especially with the increased caloric demand resulting from breast feeding.

More directly related to childbirth are the mental and hormonal changes after birth known as postpartum."  There is a period of emotional and mental distress in many women following giving birth.  Postpartum depression includes a wide range of symptoms which can dramatically change the mother's outlook and personality.  Depression and lack of energy are common symptoms, although in extreme cases a woman may develop "puerperal psychosis" where she may become delusional and suicidal.  Postpartum depression is frequently unrecognized and misdiagnosed and a woman suffering from it may not understand why she is exhausted and depressed.13

Physical Environment

The basement apartment rented to them was a cool refuge from blistering heat when they moved in. The same place became dark, cold and depressing by winter.14  The landlady also became increasingly unresponsive to repair or other needs.  Kriseya, however, decided to stay to give her coming baby a stable home.  Ten days after Thunder died, although Kriseya and Michael had made minor improvements, the apartment was declared unfit for human occupancy by Rick Gottschling, a Washoe County Building Inspector.15

Lighting — A few, small, partly earth-filled window wells at ceiling level provided the only natural light.  Exposed wiring and other electrical problems caused bulbs to burn out frequently, causing a lack of artificial light also.  The overall illumination was so poor that when the paramedics came they had to move Thunder to the kitchen near a window well to examine him.16

Heat — Cold air sinks, and this basement was no exception.  The thermostat was upstairs under the landlady's control.  There was only one vent to bring heat flow from the upstairs and no provision was made to circulate the heat from room to room in the basement.  Both tenants and guests complained often of the cold.  Kriseya was unsuccessful at persuading the landlady to be more liberal with the heat.

The winter of 1992-1993 in Reno held records for cold temperatures and snowfall.17  The extreme cold became an important contributing factor in Thunder's death.  The only way Kriseya could protect her baby from the cold apartment air was to keep him constantly bundled.  She also decided to bathe him less often until the worst cold was past.  To illustrate the apartments frigidity: when Kriseya's mother arrived in Reno on January 12, in the midst of a blizzard, she contracted pneumonia within days of staying at the apartment, although wearing a coat inside all the time.  Kriseya's stepfather arrived January 20, and within days also succumbed to pneumonia, plus strep throat.  Kriseya was protecting her baby against these harsh conditions by keeping him bundled and bathing him infrequently.

Ventilation and Sanitation — The furnace, located in the living area, emitted noxious gases.  (See note 16.)  The clothes dryer vented into the living area.  The clothes washer often overflowed.  These conditions were exacerbated by the fact that there was no air flow of any kind, natural or artificial.  The landlady claimed she could not afford repairs, so Kriseya and Michael had made some marginal attempts at remedying some things themselves.

Floor Plan — The apartment was fairly large for a one bedroom, roughly 725 square feet.  Most of the six rooms were separated by doors, and sound did not carry well laterally.  Thus, separate activities could be carried on in relative privacy.  (Contrary to an uncontested claim by the DA.)

Division of Duties — Ostensibly to share childrearing duties with Kriseya, Michael insisted on changing, clothing, and bathing Thunder.  This fact, combined with Thunder being bundled up most of the time, provided Kriseya fewer opportunities than would normally arise for thoroughly examining her baby.

Psychological Factors

Most people, at some time in their lives, have failed to recognize crucial elements in a situation surrounding them, or even posing a danger to them.18  Michael abused Thunder when Kriseya was working on the phone or asleep.  He never shared his inner turmoil with her.  Impossible as it seems, he continued reassuring Kriseya of his love for her and for their child.  Kriseya noticed small scratches on Thunder's cheeks and stomach, but when she mentioned them, Michael told her that Thunder had scratched himself.  Kriseya believed him, since she had not cut her baby's fingernails, afraid she might hurt her baby if he moved suddenly.  Kriseya once came upon Michael burping her baby too hard and angrily snatched him away, reprimanding Michael for being insensitive.

After that, she saw small bruises on her baby's toes the day before he died.  She asked Michael about it.  He told her it must have happened when he changed the baby's shoes, then said he needed to be more sensitive.19  The other bruise she saw that day was on her baby's bottom.  She talked it over with Michael and, not finding any explanation, concluded that the bruise was there because she must have left her baby in his swing too long!  Such events indicate the level of Kriseya's naiveté and her amazing lack of suspicion in the face of facts which might cause someone else to object.

Michael encouraged Kriseya to believe benign reasons or plausible explanations for anything she questioned.  She believed him, for he was always reminding her that he was 10 years older and had been a nanny for a small child, whereas she was a first time mother with no previous experience caring for small children.  She was also entirely ignorant of any aspect of child abuse and, thus, never considered abuse as a possible explanation for the signs she did see.

Kriseya was raised with a metaphysical background which emphasized changing reality by "visualization."  She believed that if she made affirmations about what she wanted to happen, this would somehow bring about the good desired.  She combined such beliefs with Christianity in a strange, ill-fitting blend where she came to think that reality was a matter of belief.  She also believed in natural health remedies such as homeopathy, herbs and vegetarianism.  She overcame a distrust of allopathic (conventional) medicine for her son's sake, going to the hospital for the birth and to the doctor for checkups.  Although she wanted to take Thunder to a doctor a few times during those last weeks, Michael urged her to rely on her own home remedies instead.

Kriseya's own personality may have blinded her more than any health care practice did.  Almost a year after Thunder's death, she was evaluated by Dr. Earl S. Nielsen, a clinical psychologist. Dr. Nielsen interviewed and administered the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised and the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Interview-2.20

Kriseya maintained that she had no knowledge whatsoever that Thunder was being abused and Dr. Nielsen notes that it took her several weeks to accept the fact that Michael killed Thunder.  He concluded on the basis of his evaluation that Kriseya is extremely naive, accepting, and trusting.  She is a concrete thinker who overlooks problems and worries and assumes that everything will turn out all right.  She believes that people are inherently good and does not sufficiently trust her own judgment; consequently she is quite vulnerable to exploitation from others.  Dr. Nielsen found no evidence of a thought disorder, psychosis, substance abuse disorder, or sociopathy.  He concluded that she did not have the characteristics of someone who would behave violently or abuse a helpless victim.  His report includes:

She is sensitive to the feelings of others, while being perhaps too trusting ... [She] is able to overlook life's minor irritations, as well as some of the irritating facts.  She is concrete in her thinking, and does not sufficiently test her own judgment in the face of conflict.  Ms. Labastida presents evidence of extreme naiveté and lack of insight.  She is accepting of everyone and everything, rejecting of no one.  She is careful to judge no one, and has built personal values around that precept.  Unfortunately, to be so accepting and open minded leaves one very vulnerable to the exploitation of others.  People around Ms. Labastida are likely to describe her in terms similar to those of Pollyanna ...  She believes people are inherently good, and she exudes innocence and ignorance with regard to the world's ills ...  She is an unlikely candidate for violence, regardless of provocation ... the character elements necessary for prolonged abuse of a helpless victim would not be predicted from the personality pattern provided by this woman.

For reasons that are unclear to the authors, Dr. Nielsen was not used as a witness by Kriseya's attorneys.21

Kriseya's extreme naiveté, lack of suspiciousness, tendency to minimize problems, and propensity toward magical thinking combined with her fatigue, probable postpartum depression, and the dark and cold apartment kept her from seeing what was happening.  She simply did not know anything about Michael's abuse of Thunder.  Kriseya doesn't fully understand, even today, why she didn't know and this is a source of significant additional grief to her.

The Responsibility of the Nonoffending Parent

The nonoffending parent is often held responsible for the abuse along with the abusing parent.  In such cases, however, it is assumed that the parent knew of the abuse but did nothing to stop it.  With Kriseya, there was no knowledge of abuse, but only the presumption that she should have known.  Nevertheless, she was held criminally responsible, despite the many reasons discussed above that explain why she didn't know.

When it is assumed that the nonoffending parent knew or should have known of the abuse, this parent is likely to be harshly blamed for not protecting her child.  A headline for a newspaper column about Hedda Nussbaum (whose adopted daughter, Lisa, was beaten to death by her partner, Joel Steinberg) proclaims, "Tortured mother should still have protected child."22  An article in a professional journal observes, "With the social expectation of the mother to protect her children from all forms of abuse, a woman who is perceived as unable to protect is 'regarded as particularly loathsome'."23

Nonoffending mothers of sexually abused children are often seen as passive and weak and failing to protect their children.  They have been stereotyped as hostile and rejecting and as colluding with the father/abuser to permit or even promote their children's abuse.  Research on these stereotypes, however, fails to support them.24

Mothers accused of failing to protect their child from abuse by the father have been successfully sued in civil court.  In Richie v. Richie25 a woman successfully sued both parents for five years of childhood sexual abuse by her father.  The jury held both parents liable, the father for perpetrating the abuse and the mother for failing to stop it.  An attorney for the plaintiff said that she believed this was the first case where the jury ruled against the parent who did not commit the abuse.  She felt this was a step forward for abuse victims, who could sue the nonoffending parent for negligence.26  In a case in Texas, two weeks later, a judge awarded two sisters damages against both their mother and stepfather for abuse by the stepfather, holding the mother 50% responsible.27

Several courts and state legislatures have extended criminal liability for child abuse to include parents who condone the abuse of their children.  The reasoning behind this is that, since parents have a legal duty to protect their child, parents may be criminally liable if they fail to stop abuse or fail to remove the child from a dangerous situation.  Several convictions using this reasoning have been upheld on appeal.28  In such cases it is generally assumed that the non-offending parent knew, or should have known, of the abuse.  Such cases have not involved parents, such as Kriseya, where the nonoffending parent did not know what was happening.

Adams29 observes that the trend to hold parents liable for their failure to act to prevent the abuse of their children can be extended to parents in "denial."  By "denial," Adams means when the parent does not acknowledge or even consciously know that abuse is occurring, even in the face of clear evidence that abuse is occurring.  If the court finds that a reasonable person encountering the same facts would have recognized the duty to act to protect her child, the failure to act could constitute a criminal offense.  Adams believes that a liberal interpretation of state child abuse statutes could result in courts ruling that mothers who should have known of abuse, even though they didn't know, could be held to "knowingly subject" their children to abuse.  This, in fact, is what has happened in Kriseya's case.

Adams30 notes that there has been little discussion about the issues of criminal liability of mothers who should be aware that their partners are abusing their children, but are not in fact because they are in a state of denial.  She argues that imposing criminal liability on such mothers is counterproductive and instead recommends deferred prosecution and mandatory treatment.  Although Adams is talking about sexual abuse here, her recommendations are relevant for cases of physical abuse as well.

The case of Kriseya Labastida goes beyond the trends to extend liability that are discussed by Adams.  There is no evidence that Kriseya knew of Michael Strawser's abuse of Thunder.  The fact that their roommate, Kevin Hughes, was unaware of the abuse makes it difficult to conclude that Kriseya observed the abuse but was "in denial" about it.  There is strong evidence to refute the presumption that, given the facts of her situation, she should have known.  The appropriate disposition for cases such as this is not criminal prosecution.

If Kriseya's convictions are upheld, then a far-reaching, dangerous, and unjust precedent will have been set — holding as criminally liable for acts of child abuse, those who have not participated in any abuse and who had no knowledge of the abuse but who, nevertheless, the judge or jury rules, "must have known."

Current Case Status

Kriseya's case has been pending appeal before the Nevada Supreme Court since April 11, 1995.  She is likely to need legal assistance and expert witnesses after the appeal decision is made for a retrial if one or both conviction(s) are overturned or for a post-conviction hearing if the appeal on either charge is denied.  She and we (her parents) are researching postpartum syndrome, how hypoglycemia can affect perception, and how a person can believe in someone so much as to not believe they could do something so heinous.  We have lacked information about some points of psychology and other matters presented here and are attempting to research how any of these factors — physical, environmental or psychological — can affect perception and comprehension. Kriseya is also seeking an attorney who specializes in appeals of child abuse cases.


1 Judge James A. Stone, as reported in the Reno Gazette-Journal, April 9, 1994.  [Back]

2 Angela Curtis, "Witness never called to testify," Daily Sparks Tribune, January 30, 1994. "'Kriseya was very excited about being pregnant and having a baby,' he [Kevin Hughes] said."  [Back]

3 Everyone who has seen the videotape or read the transcript of this police interview has recognized Kriseya's innocence by her manifest emotion of horror.  [Back]

4 Earl S. Nielsen, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist, Psychological Evaluation, December 1, 1993, "At the time of her arrest, Ms. Labastida responded with shock and disbelief.  She maintained for several weeks a belief that both she and Mr. Strawser were being unfairly treated, and that no abuse could possibly have occurred.  Gradually, with consistent and vivid descriptions of the child's condition, she has retrospectively begun to believe that Mr. Strawser had killed her child.  Still, she is unable to account for how these things occurred ..."  [Back]

5 Angela Curtis, "Lawyer says murder charges in child abuse case are unwarranted," Daily Sparks Tribune, August 19, 1993.  [Back]

6 Judge Stone denied the motion after Judge Mills Lane left the courtroom.  Upon hearing Judge Stone misstate Judge Lane's testimony, Clara Boggs (Kriseya's mother) ran down the hall to speak to Judge Lane in his chambers.  After relaying what she heard and telling him of the denied motion, Judge Lane exclaimed, "That's not what I said!"  Mrs. Boggs asked him what to do, and he told her not to worry because everything would come out all right in the end — to have faith in the justice system.  [Back]

7 From Appellant's Proper Person Supplemental Brief, p. 40, lines 10-15:

"The following errors are all found in the Trial Transcript of 1/19/1994, at the pages indicated: Page 9. ERROR: Mrs. Holmes informed the jury that even if they believed Kriseya was not personally responsible for inflicting any injuries, her action of continuing to 'offer up' her baby to Strawser day after day, and not to take the baby away from him to save his life, constitutes aiding and abetting, making her responsible for the torture murder of her baby, even if she never laid a finger on him.  ('Offering up' referred to the normal daily trust defendant had in Strawser to change diapers or clothing.)"  [Back]

8 Appellant's Proper Person Supplemental Brief, August 29, 1995, pp.11-15 documents some reasons that Kriseya did not recognize her son's injuries as abuse, including the fact that most were internal.  [Back]

9 Id[Back]

10 Kirk Clark, personal communication.  [Back]

11 See, for example, Eleanor Goldstein and Kevin Farmer, True stories of false memories, 1993, Boca Raton, FL, 33487.  [Back]

12 Spanish Springs Medical Group (Sparks, NV) collected a hair sample on 5/20/93 and sent it to Trace Elements, Inc., Dallas, TX.  The results, dated 6/2/93, reported, among other imbalances, "very inactive Adrenal sensitivity, dysinsulinism, PMS, depression, fatigue, liver dysfunction, and diminished cellular oxidation."  The report also states, "a sugar and simple carbohydrate intolerance as indicated by the elevated Calcium/Magnesium ration" (i.e., Hypoglycemia).  [Back]

13 K. Dalton, Depression after childbirth, New York: Oxford University Press, 1989; LaVerne Williamson, Postpartum depression syndrome as a defense to criminal behavior, Journal of Family Violence, 8(2), 1993, 151-165.  [Back]

14 Kevin Hughes often referred to the apartment as a "dungeon."  [Back]

15 City of Reno, January 19, 1993, report by Rick Gottschling, CCI, Housing Inspector.  This report cited violations of Uniform Housing Code, Sections 504 (light and ventilation), 801 (substandard windows), 801 (windows too high), 504 (Bathroom ventilation), 701(b) (exposed wiring), 1001(a) (dwelling not separate from furnace area).  [Back]

16 Appellant's Proper Person Supplemental Brief p.11, lines 3 and 4, "None of the EMT personnel could see any injuries until after they moved the child into the better light of the kitchen."  Also, see Transcript of Proceedings, April 20,1993, Writ of Habeas Corpus, P.8, lines 19-24 and p. 9, lines 1-21.  [Back]

17 January, 1993 was listed "one of the coldest Januarys on record.  At Reno, the 25.7 degree average temperature was the 11th coldest January in 122 years, and the coldest since 1972.  January 3, the coldest of the winter, was 3 degrees below zero."  It was 5 degrees on December 5, the coldest in December and in 1992. Monthly Climatological Data, National Climactic Data Center, Editions: December, January.  [Back]

18 Examples abound of people's blindness to impending disaster or wrongdoing under their noses.  The "last to know" unsuspecting husband, wife or parent of an errant family member is classical because such experiences are so common.  A more alert, less trusting person might have seen what Kriseya did not.  [Back]

19 Reno Police Department Transcript, p.25, lines 39, 40; p.26, lines 1-15.  [Back]

20 Nielsen, op. cit.  [Back]

21 Doug Nicholson, Kriseya's first attorney, was very pleased with the psychologist's report, thinking that it would contribute strongly to Kriseya's defense.  Vivian Lynch, the second attorney, declined to use the report, claiming that it contained some unfavorable statements about Kriseya.  (According to Kriseya, the report did contain some incorrect statements.  One was due to the fact that the psychologist confused a statement Kriseya made about her mother and former stepfather.  Other than this error and a dubious assessment or two, in the authors' opinion it was a larger error not to use Dr. Nielsen's evaluation, for it detailed her naiveté and assessed that Kriseya did not fit the profile of someone who could have hurt her child or permitted another to do so.)  [Back]

22 Barbara T. Roessner, "Tortured mother should still have protected child," Star Tribune (Minneapolis), January 16, 1989, p. 7A.  [Back]

23 Martha K. Wilson, A preliminary report on ego development in nonoffending mothers of sexually abused children, Child Abuse & Neglect, 19(4), 1995, 511-518 (p.511).  [Back]

24 See Esther Deblinger, Christina Russell Hathaway, Julie Lippmann, & Robert Steer, Psychosocial characteristics and correlates of symptom distress in nonoffending mothers of sexually abused children, Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 8, 1993, 155-168; Kathleen Coulborn Faller, The myth of the "collusive mother": Variability in the functioning of mothers of victims of intrafamilial sexual abuse, Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 3, 1988, 190-196; Beverly B. Lovett, Child sexual abuse: The female victim's relationship with her nonoffending mother, Child Abuse & Neglect, 19, 1995, 729-738; David Muram, Ted L. Rosenthal, & Kelly W. Beck, Personality profiles of mothers of sexual abuse victims and their daughters, Child Abuse & Neglect, 18,1994, 419-423; Daniel W. Smith & Benjamin E. Saunders, Personality characteristics of father/perpetrators and nonoffending mothers in incest families: Individual and dyadic analyses, Child Abuse & Neglect, 19, 1995, 607-617.  [Back]

25 Richie v. Richie, No. 91-036635 (Minn., Scott County Dist. Ct. Oct. 2, 1992).  [Back]

26 Julie Gannon Shoop, Mother liable for failure to protect child from sexual abuse, Trial, January, 1993, pp.16, 109.  [Back]

27 Mark Hansen, Liability for spouse's abuse: New theory holds mothers accountable for failing to protect children, ABA Journal, February, 1993, p. 16.  [Back]

28 See, for example, State vs. Zobel, 134 N.w.2d 101 (S.D.1965) which upheld the father's manslaughter conviction for failing to protect his children from an abusive mother; Smith v. State, 408 NE.2d 614 (Ind. 1980) which upheld the conviction of the mother for involuntary manslaughter and neglect of a dependent for her failure to protect her son from abuse by her boyfriend; Phelps v. State, 439 So.2d 727 (Ala. 1983) which upheld the mother's conviction for child abuse for failure to protect the child from the stepfather's abuse, of which she was aware; Jukubczak v. State, 425 So. 2d 187, 188-189 (Fl. 1983) which upheld the mother's conviction of child abuse by an act of omission or culpable negligence based on evidence that she left her baby with her husband knowing that his drug and alcohol abuse often left him without control of his mental faculties and that the child had previously suffered injuries while in his care; State v. Kamel, 466 N.E. 2d 860 (Ohio 1984), which upheld the father's manslaughter and child endangerment convictions based on his duty to protect his child; State v. Walden, 293 S.E.2d 780 (N.C. 1982), which upheld the conviction of a mother who failed to intervene in the severe beating of her son by a male acquaintance; Childers v. State, 680 P.2d 598 (Nev. 1984), which upheld the mother's conviction for abuse and neglect when the mother failed to protect her child from her boyfriend and failed to seek medical attention for her child's injuries; Smith v. State, 408 N.E.2nd 614 (Ind. Ct. App. 1980), which upheld the conviction of the mother for involuntary manslaughter and neglect for her failure to protect her child from abuse by her live-in boyfriend.  [Back]

29 Christine Adams, Mothers who fail to protect their children from sexual abuse: Addressing the problem of denial, Yale Law and Policy Review, 12, 1994, 519-539.  [Back]

* Marion A. Boggs III and Clara Boggs, Kriseya Labastida's parents, may be reached at 8100 Stone St., # 1402, Houston, TX 77061-1950, (713) 649-7377,[Back]

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