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Leo M. v. Department of Child Safety

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division

October 1, 2015

LEO M., CRYSTEL D., Appellants,
v.
DEPARTMENT OF CHILD SAFETY, A.M., L.M., Appellees.

Not for Publication – Rule 111(c), Rules of the Arizona Supreme Court

Appeal from the Superior Court in Maricopa County No. JD22893[1] The Honorable Joan M. Sinclair, Judge

COUNSEL Maricopa County Public Advocate's Office, Mesa By Suzanne Sanchez Counsel for Appellant Mother

John L. Popilek P.C, Scottsdale By John L. Popilek Counsel for Appellant Father

Arizona Attorney General's Office, Phoenix By JoAnn Falgout Counsel for Appellee Department of Child Safety

Judge Samuel A. Thumma delivered the decision of the Court, in which Presiding Judge Jon W. Thompson and Judge Donn Kessler joined.

MEMORANDUM DECISION

THUMMA, Judge

¶1 Leo M. (Father) and Crystel D. (Mother) appeal from the superior court's order terminating their parental rights to A.M. (born in 2012) and L.M. (born in 2011). Because the record supports the superior court's decisions, the order is affirmed.

FACTS[2] AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶2 On September 26, 2012, before dawn, Father was caring for L.M. while Mother was sleeping. Father claims he tripped and fell with L.M. (then 20 days old) and bumped the baby's head on a wall. Mother was unaware of the incident until later that day when she returned home from work and noticed "swelling" on L.M.'s head. Mother immediately took L.M. to the emergency room, where doctors determined L.M. had skull fractures and internal bleeding. Because the injuries were inconsistent with the explanation provided, and were "highly concerning for a non-accidental trauma, " the hospital contacted the Department of Child Safety (DCS).

¶3 After a familial placement with a safety plan and additional investigation, DCS took the children in custody and filed a dependency petition in November 2012. DCS alleged Father had abused L.M. and that Mother had failed to protect the children or acknowledge Father could have harmed L.M. Father and Mother denied the allegations but submitted the issue to the court and the children were found dependent in December 2012. At that time, the court adopted a case plan of family reunification with a concurrent case plan of severance and adoption.

¶4 DCS provided various reunification services, including parent-aide services, transportation, psychological evaluations and counselling. DCS also provided a psychiatric evaluation for Mother, onetime urinalysis for Father, anger-management and domestic-violence counselling for Father and domestic violence and parenting-skills group therapy for Mother. Given the allegations of abuse and an ongoing police investigation, DCS provided supervised visitation.

¶5 Participation in these services by Father and Mother was sporadic and with mixed outcomes. The record supports a finding that Father only minimally complied with services, demonstrating his unwillingness to take responsibility for his actions. The record also supports a finding that Mother completed some services but did not acknowledge Father's abuse of L.M.

¶6 In March 2014, over the objection of Father and Mother, the superior court changed the case plan to severance and adoption. DCS' motion for termination sought to terminate their ...


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