DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit woman charged with fatally stabbing her daughter three days before the child’s ninth birthday pleaded not guilty to a murder charge Thursday as authorities scrambled to determine why the girl and four siblings were not removed from their home weeks ago.
Police responding to a call from neighbors found Tameria Greene bleeding from the chest Sunday on the floor of her family’s apartment. She was pronounced dead at a hospital.
The Michigan Department of Human Services said it tried to remove Tameria and her siblings from the home as far back as 2010, but its requests were denied. The most recent petition was filed the day after Thanksgiving, alleging Semeria Greene, 26, had abused her daughter, who had bites on her hand, forearm and face.
“DHS continued to provide court-ordered counseling services to the family as well as conducting in-home visits, the last of which occurred only two days before Tameria’s death. We share the grief felt by her loved ones and her community,” director Maura Corrigan said in a statement.
Richard Smart III, a referee in the Family Division of Wayne County court, held a hearing on Nov. 23 that lasted just minutes. He recommended no removal and noted that the father of some of Tameria’s siblings had moved into the home “to provide protection and supervision,” according to records. Judge Lisa Neilson signed the order.
Five days later, another referee, Leslie Graves, held a pretrial hearing. She set a trial on the state’s petition and noted the children remained at home. Judge Frank Szymanski signed that order.
Szymanski told The Associated Press that he had no direct role in the Greene case but was deeply troubled by the girl’s death.
“I just looked at the file. … I want to get to the bottom of this. I’m concerned, absolutely,” he said. “I need to see the transcript. We remove kids all the time.”
Referees preside over hearings in Michigan’s local Juvenile Courts and make recommendations in abuse and neglect cases. Like full-fledged judges, they are attorneys. Judges, however, retain the right to intervene.