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Tina T. v. Dep't of Child Safety

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division

December 11, 2014

TINA T., Appellant,
v.
DEPARTMENT OF CHILD SAFETY, B.H., Appellees

Appeal from the Superior Court in Maricopa County. Nos. JD22619, JS17302. The Honorable Bradley H. Astrowsky, Judge.

Maricopa County Public Advocate, Mesa, By Eric Devany, Counsel for Appellant.

Arizona Attorney General's Office, Phoenix, By Michael F. Valenzuela, Counsel for Appellee Department of Child Safety.

Judge Michael J. Brown delivered the Opinion of the Court, in which Presiding Judge Peter B. Swann and Judge Kenton D. Jones joined.

OPINION

Page 1041

[236 Ariz. 296] Michael J. Brown, Judge:

[¶1] Tina T. (" Mother" ) appeals the juvenile court's order terminating her parental rights to her daughter, B.H., on the grounds of willful abuse under Arizona Revised Statutes (" A.R.S." ) section 8-533(B)(2). Mother argues the court's decision is not supported by reasonable evidence. However, because she decided not to contest the allegations of the petition to terminate, our review in this case is limited to determining whether the Department of Child Safety (" DCS" )[1] presented evidence demonstrating a factual basis for the allegations. For the following reasons, we conclude that the record contains such evidence, and therefore affirm.

BACKGROUND

[¶2] Mother and Nicholas H. (" Father" )[2] are the biological parents of B.H., who was born in 2012. Mother's two older children, A.N. and C.B., were born in 2002 and 2007, respectively. In January 2003, police and emergency personnel responded to Mother's apartment after a 9-1-1 call reported that A.N., then three months old, was not breathing. A.N. later died from injuries consistent with " shaken baby syndrome."

[¶3] When police questioned Mother about the incident, she reported that A.N. was with her then-boyfriend, Pedro, and Mother was not present because she was physically disciplining C.B. in a different room. Mother also reported that both she and Pedro often disciplined C.B. by spanking him and Pedro admitted to shaking A.N. In a later interview, Mother admitted she had seen Pedro shake A.N. previously.

[¶4] Mother was charged with one count of child abuse, a class 2 felony, relating to A.N.'s death. In March 2005, Mother pled guilty to attempted child abuse, a class 3 felony. She was sentenced to one year in prison and placed on lifetime probation, the terms of which prohibited any contact with minor children. When Mother was released from prison in 2006, her probation was modified to permit supervised contact with C.B.

Page 1042

[236 Ariz. 297] [¶5] In August 2007, witnesses reported that Mother had physically abused C.B. at a store by punching him in the face and dragging him outside. Mother was indicted on two counts of child abuse and later pled guilty to one count of child abuse, a class 6 felony. Mother was sentenced to one year in prison along with reinstatement of the probationary condition that she have no contact with minor children.

[¶6] When Mother gave birth to B.H. in August 2012, DCS removed the infant from Mother's care but did not immediately seek court intervention because B.H. had been placed in Father's care. Mother and Father remained in contact, however, and because Father did not follow the established safety plan, DCS filed a dependency petition ...


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