Parents convicted in death of boy, 6
PHILADELPHIA — The parents of a battered, starved 6-year-old boy were convicted on Friday of third-degree murder amid evidence that his decline began soon after he was removed from a relative's care three years earlier.
Siblings testified that Khalil Wimes endured frequent beatings as punishment for his chronic vomiting, a condition that a defense lawyer attributed to the separation from his foster mother. He also had to run laps and stand in the corner for hours until he collapsed.
Khalil weighed 29 pounds when he died, less than he had three years earlier, when he moved in with birth parents Tina Cuffie and Latiff Hadi, who is also known as Floyd Wimes.
He was the 10th of Cuffie's 11 children. At least five older siblings previously had been removed from her care by the city's Department of Human Services. Witnesses said that Cuffie did not want to lose the youngest two children still at home with her, Khalil and a younger sister who was not abused.
She and Hadi home-schooled Khalil and kept him hidden from relatives, including the foster mother, who sobbed as she sat through the trial. They locked him in his bedroom so he could not get up at night and eat.
“Day after day, this child was screamed at, he was deprived of food, he was deprived of fresh air,” said Assistant District Attorney Ed McCann, who called Khalil's death “inevitable,” given the abuse.
Cuffie's lawyer, Michael Farrell, had a nearly similar view of how “the tragic urban American story,” as he called it, would end once Khalil was sent to live with his unfit client.
“She was placed in a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure,” Farrell said, given that Cuffie had been deemed incapable of caring for five other children. He argued that Cuffie, in response to the vomiting, “tried to discipline away a psychological, medical problem.”
It was not immediately clear from the trial testimony why Khalil was returned to his parents. He was monitored for a time by city workers, but the supervision ended, and his deterioration began, both sides agreed.
Khalil's death is the latest in a string of homicide cases in Philadelphia involving vulnerable children who were starved or severely malnourished.
Cuffie and Hadi have high school degrees, and they seemingly provided at least basic care to the younger sister, who attended a public preschool. Defense lawyers for both argued that their clients were guilty of only gross neglect for ignoring what they called Khalil's medical problems.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Obama signs $607B Defense bill but blasts GOP limits for Gitmo
- ‘Crisis mode’ near at U.S.-Mexico line as nearly 5,000 children try to cross border in October
- Obama: No credible intelligence about terror plot against US
- Peanut glut poses hefty bailout tab for taxpayers
- New Hampshire cancer patient gets permission to travel to Maine for medical pot
- Barrier nears completion in Indiana marsh to keep Asian carp from Great Lakes
- Los Angeles-based water agency’s land buy rattles California farmers
- Foreign policy expert: Obama administration should create Syria safe areas
- Self-driving vehicles closer to getting green light as feds ease stance
- Girls outperform boys in variety of subjects, international survey shows
- Police: Shooting at New Orleans playground wounds 16