Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sgt. Chad Lakey Arrested for Sexual Battery on Child

An Osceola sheriff's sergeant arrested Friday on a domestic child-sex charge was moved Saturday to the Orange County Jail for his protection.

Chad Lakey, 33, who comes from a family of law officers, was arrested after a South Carolina woman told police he molested her daughter. The incident is said to have happened at Lakey's St. Cloud home in summer 2008. It was reported three weeks ago, St. Cloud Capt. Bret Dunn said.

Bail on the charge of domestic sexual battery of a child older than 12 is $2,500. Lakey, a former St. Cloud police detective, was placed on administrative leave while the Sheriff's Office conducts an internal investigation, department spokeswoman Twis Lizasuain said Saturday.

Lakey is married to St. Cloud police Sgt. Dhalyn Lakey, and his father, Jim Lakey, is a retired Kissimmee police sergeant who lost in the Republican primary for Osceola sheriff in 2004.

Miriam Gallegos & Angel Montoya Charged with Death of 3-year-old

A woman and her boyfriend pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder and child abuse in the death of the woman's 3-year-old daughter, who was found in a trash bag.

Miriam Gallegos and Angel Ray Montoya entered their pleas Friday.

Prosecutors say Montoya killed the child while Gallegos was at work then the couple conspired to cover the crime by disposing of the body in a ravine in September 2007.

The couple told authorities the girl was missing.

Authorities say the child died of asphyxiation.

Montoya faces charges of first-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death, while Gallegos faces charges of accessory to a crime and child abuse resulting in death.

Marcus Cobbs Charged with Starving Toddler to Death

A former member of a religious cult backed out of a plea deal Friday and will face trial on charges that he and others starved a toddler to death because the boy refused to say "Amen" after meals.

Marcus A. Cobbs, 22, had agreed to plead guilty to a lesser charge of accessory after the fact. But his attorney abruptly withdrew the plea after a dispute with prosecutors over the conditions of his release.

Cobbs will now face trial in January along with three other members of the now-defunct cult known as 1 Mind Ministries. All four face charges of murder and child abuse in the January 2007 death of 1-year-old Javon Thompson and could face life in prison if convicted.

Had Cobbs pleaded guilty, he would not have admitted any role in starving the child. But he did help the cult members cover up Javon's death, according to a statement of facts read in court to support his guilty plea.

He burned a mattress where the boy's body had lain for several days while the cult members prayed for his resurrection, according to the statement. He also measured Javon's body, washed it, wrapped it in a blanket and placed it inside a suitcase that he bought, the statement said.

The cult members drove to Philadelphia with the suitcase containing Javon's body, where they hid it in a shed behind a home, according to the statement and other court documents. The suitcase remained there for more than a year before police found it.

Javon's mother, Ria Ramkissoon, was part of the cult and pleaded guilty to child abuse resulting in death. She is expected to testify against the other members and remains jailed. At the time of her plea in March, she held out hope that Javon would be resurrected, and in an extraordinary arrangement, prosecutors agreed to withdraw her plea if that occurs.

Maureen Rowland, Cobbs' public defender, told the Associated Press she thought her client would receive a five-year suspended sentence and be released from jail immediately after pleading guilty.

"He was only taking it because he wanted to get out of jail," Rowland said. "If he was sitting in jail, it wouldn't be a good deal."

But prosecutors said they never agreed to his immediate release. Their tentative plan was for Cobbs to live with a relative out of state until after the trial of the other three cult members, said Joseph Sviatko, a spokesman for the state's attorney's office.

Attorneys did not bring up their disagreement about the conditions of Cobbs' release until after Baltimore Circuit Judge John Philip Miller accepted the guilty plea.

Clearly exasperated, Miller called the attorneys to the bench for a heated conference, after which Rowland announced that she was withdrawing the plea. Miller agreed to throw it out.

"You didn't have an agreement, it appears," the judge said.

Leon Surgeon Charged with Child Abuse

Along Clover Meadows Drive you find many families, many children. Babies (with supervision) to teenagers make the rounds Friday night, a number of them passing a home where a three-year-old was Wednesday when police say something happened to her, something criminal.

“It gave me a gut feeling, like I was sick to my stomach,” says Trudy Murray in front of her townhome. She was one of the people who saw police and paramedics pile on to her street then into a house across the street from hers.

“After awhile, they brought this, this body out,” Murray recalls, “She was kind of limpy-looking, and I thought, ‘Oh, my God.’”

“She had a face mask on, like she was trying to be resuscitated from whatever, you know, the situation was,” adds another neighbor.

The situation, as Chesapeake officers tell it, is this: Leon Surgeon was taking care of the three-year-old while her mom was at work. Paramedics wound up taking her to the hospital for what looked like severe head trauma. The extent of her injuries was so bad, she was transferred from Bon Secours Maryview Medical Center to Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters where she was in critical condition late Friday.

Surgeon, who has a (different) child with the three-year-old’s mother, now faces two charges, including felony child abuse.

“It does happen. I see it. I read it,” Murray notes. “It’s just sad, sad what happens to all these children. They’re being abused, and nobody cares.”

“I don’t know what a three-year-old child could do so bad to make someone actually try to hurt them like that,” a neighbor says. “Evidently, this gentleman has a problem with children or with hisself, or life in general.”

13News went to the home out of which neighbors watched emergency workers bring the three-year-old. Someone who answered the door said she knows Surgeon, but wouldn’t say what her connection to him is, and she denied knowing his relationship to the mother of the three-year-old. She went on to say she believed Surgeon was “somewhere else” when the girl was in trouble Wednesday. Pressed for more information, she closed the door and said, “I’m not talking to you.”

“Go after him. Get him,” Murray says. “If anybody does that to a small child, they belong not even on the street, not even any place near children.”

Edward Kestler Arrested for Trying to Meet Minor

A 29-year-old Bluffton man was arrested earlier this week after driving about three hours in the hope of having sex with an underage girl he met on the Internet, according to investigators.

Edward Joseph Kestler of Baywood Drive was arrested Monday by the Lexington County Sheriff's Department and charged with one count of criminal solicitation of a minor and one count of attempted criminal sexual conduct with a minor.

Investigators say Kestler solicited sex from an undercover Lexington County Sheriff's deputy who posed an as underage girl on the Internet. The deputy was undergoing Internet predator training from S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster's office, according to a news release Friday from the office.

The Lexington County Sheriff's department is part of McMaster's 50-agency Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

Kestler arranged to meet the girl at a predetermined location in Lexington County and was arrested by Lexington County Sheriff's deputies and officers from the Town of Chapin Police Department. Police searched Kestler's vehicle and recovered a laptop computer and a removable drive as evidence, according to authorities.

The age of the girl Kestler believed he was meeting was redacted by police from arrest warrants. He was charged with second-degree attempted criminal sexual conduct with a minor, which the state defines as sexual battery against someone between 11 and 14 years old.

Kestler was released Wednesday from the Lexington County Detention Center on $50,000 bond, according to the Lexington County Sheriff's Department.

He faces 10 to 20 years in prison if convicted. The attorney general's office will prosecute Kestler's case.

An April 2007 arrest for assault and battery is Kestler's only prior arrest in Beaufort County, according to the county's online jail log.

Kestler's arrest was the 178th for the task force, which was created in April 2004 to develop a network of state and local agencies to investigate and prosecute Internet child sexual exploitation.

"We know that we have put a dent in this problem just by the sheer number of arrests we've made," said Mark Plowden, spokesman for the attorney general's office. "But we know that for every one that we catch, there are hundreds out there. There is never any loss of perverts on the Internet looking for children. It's a tremendous problem."

More Information:

Samantha Abernathy Pleads Guilty to Child Abuse

A 21-year-old woman who was wanted for missing her sentencing hearing on a felony child abuse charge is back behind bars.

Officers from the Arizona Department of Public Safety arrested Abernathy in Mesa about 10:40 a.m. Thursday, and she was being held Friday in the Maricopa County Fourth Avenue Jail, according to jail records.

Samantha Abernathy, who left her two sons, ages 1 and 3, home alone about 2 a.m. June 14, pleaded guilty to one count of felony child abuse on Sept. 11 in Maricopa County Superior Court.

Abernathy was free on bail, and when she did not show up for her sentencing on Oct. 23, a warrant was issued for her arrest. Abernathy had not been checking in with the court and was not cooperating with Pre-Trial Services, the agency that keeps tabs on people who are free on bail, according to court records.

Abernathy was being held on $5,000 bond, and is scheduled to appear for a hearing on Nov. 5, according to jail records.

Under terms of the plea deal, Abernathy will be on probation for 16 years and spend up to a year in a county jail if the court chooses probation. The court also could send her to state prison for up to 18 months, according to state sentencing laws.

Neighbors called police about 7 a.m. to report that the children were wandering around the apartment complex at University Drive and Gilbert Road in Mesa.

When police arrived at the apartment, they discovered it in filthy conditions and the boys hungry. One of the children reached for dog food as police were investigating, according to police.