Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Kayden Branham

Kayden Branham was 20-months-old when he died after drinking drain cleaner left sitting in a coffee cup on a table.  The drain cleaner had been used to manufacture methamphetamine by his 14-year-old mother, 19-year-old father, uncle, and three other meth addicts.  The trailer where the meth was being made was owned by his grandfather, Larry Branham, (14-year-old Alisha's father) who claims he was not at the residence at the time and had no knowledge that meth was being made.

Records show that Alisha was 12 when she got pregnant and was placed in foster care.  She was 13 when she gave birth.  Her and her son, Kayden, were returned to the custody of Alisha's mother, Melissa on the condition that Melissa pass required drug tests, provide a safe home for both children, and make sure Alisha was supervised and attended school regularly.  None of the provisions were met yet both children remained in Melissa's custody.  Melissa refused to take drug tests on approximately a dozen occasions.  The tests she did take proved inconclusive or she outright failed for prescription drugs she did not have a prescription for.  Social workers were sent to the home at one point after Alisha missed 31 days of school.  Alisha stated her mother had been staying with her boyfriend and she had no one to watch Kayden.  Alisha also told social workers, according to records, that there was no food because her mother was trading food stamps for drugs.  At the time of Kayden's death Alisha had been staying with her boyfriend and uncle in a trailer that had meth manufactured on several other occasions.  Alisha's mothers home did not have running water or electricity.

Some interviews say that Kayden, Alisha, and Brian (Kayden's 19-yr-old father) were not at home while the meth was actually being manufactured.  Records that were released by the Kentucky Cabinet for Children and Family Services have Alisha stating that although they (Kayden's parents) knew that meth was being manufactured they didn't keep Kayden at home during those instances and always opened the windows and cleaned with Pledge because they knew a baby shouldn't be around that.

The night Kayden died he picked up a coffee cup on a table filled with drain cleaner and drank it.  Alisha heard him gagging and knew what had happened.  Instead of calling 911, the story is she ran across the road and got her father.  He also did not call 911, instead driving the family to the hospital.  I would not have waited for an ambulance either, but I think most normal people would have had someone call 911 and told them what was happening so an ambulance could meet in transit or medical staff could be ready. 

Kayden lived for about an hour after drinking the drain cleaner.  His throat was too badly burned to be saved.  He also had burns around his mouth and on his chest.

Alisha was hysterical.  She sucked her thumb, beat her head on a wall, and cried her "mommy".  She also talked incoherently about her baby.  She also stated that the pills her father had given her while her son was dying weren't working to calm her down.  When questioned her father said he "forgot" to mention that.  She also showed interviewers track marks on her arm and said her uncle had been injecting her with meth because she couldn't do it herself.

Alisha's case was settled in juvenile court so the outcome is not known.  The others involved go to trial in September.  As far as I know, no legal charges were pressed against Alisha's mother.

So much is known about this train wreck of a case because two major KY newspapers sued to get records released.  More records are being withheld and the cabinet passed emergency measures to stop any further information from being released.  To date, the newspapers are still fighting for the release of the information and the cabinet has been required to repay some of the newspapers legal fees.  I hope the newspapers never give up the fight.  These children were failed - one died a horrific death and another will live with the trauma forever -  and it needs to be found out how and why so that it never happens again.

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