AUGUSTA – Senator Bill Diamond, D-Windham, has introduced a bill to prioritize the prosecution of child murders in order to help expose flaws in Maine’s child welfare system.
Diamond’s LD 1857, “An Act To Prioritize the Prosecution of Child Murder Cases,” was the subject of a public hearing before the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee.
“Last year was a brutal reminder of
the problem of child abuse in Maine, with so much senseless tragedy,” said
Diamond. “Not only do we have a serious problem of children being murdered, but
these problems are compounded by delays in scheduling trials. Most of the facts
surrounding the death of a child, especially those who were under state
supervision at the time of their deaths, are confidential in nature and not
revealed to the public, media and legislators until the cases go to trial.
Bringing this information to light as quickly as possible, while preserving the
rights of the accused to a fair and speedy trial, is essential to improving the
system and protecting Maine kids.”
LD 1857 would require Maine’s Attorney
General to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of murder cases where
the victim is younger than 18 years old and would require the Attorney General
to formally request that the courts give priority in scheduling those cases. He
introduced LD 1857 after learning that, because of a backlog of cases caused by
the pandemic, last June’s child death cases would take longer to go to trial
than they typically would, thus delaying the revelation of critical information
in these cases.
A longtime advocate for reform in
Maine’s child welfare system, Diamond highlighted key pieces of information
that have been brought to light only when past child murder cases have gone to
For example, the trial in the death of
10-week-old Ethan Henderson, who was killed by his father in May 2012, revealed
the failures of mandated reporters to report Ethan’s injuries to the
The trial also revealed that DHHS
caseworkers were in Ethan’s home to conduct a welfare check on him just days
before his death but failed to follow through because Ethan was sleeping.
Making failures such as these known has been critical as the Maine Legislature
seeks to improve Maine’s child welfare system.
LD 1857 now faces further action in