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Judge Denies Starved Child's Mother, Family Custody PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Crystal Jenkins   

CORPUS CHRISTI - A judge denied visitation to a mother accused of severely starving her three-year-old son to the point of near death Monday.

After hearing testimony from experts and the doctor caring for three-year-old Isaac, Judge Terry Shamsie denied visitation for Alma Villareal and other family members.

Isaac is said to be doing fine at the hospital, but according to a doctor who is taking care of Isaac, he was dying when he was brought to the hospital last month.

The judge decided that CPS will keep custody of him.

Villareal did not testify during the hearing.

"Well, she had two attorneys there on her behalf and right now, I think the medical investigation is still at its infancy," Defense Attorney Melissa Madrigal said.

Testimony from medical experts helped the judge decide to keep all four of Villareal's children in CPS custody. The judge also refused to allow Isaac to be visited by his mother, his three sisters and other family members.

Expert witness and psychologist Wayne Duehn said Isaac's starvation "is a case of extreme family scapegoating."

"When a member of the family is a victim, it sends a message to the other children that the behavior is OK and it sends a message to the victim that they deserve it," Duehn said.

"That is a concern of CPS and that is one reason why they're asking for the psychologists to find out what's going through the minds of the children, so that we can start to help them," CPS Public Information Officer John Lennan said.

However, the defense disagrees with Duehn's theory of severe scapegoating, saying he's never talked with any of the family members.

"I think it's speculation and he even admitted on the stand it was speculation. It was all based on CPS information," Madrigal said.

The judge also heard testimony from Driscoll's Childcare Medical Director Dr. Nancy Harper, who has had extensive interaction with Isaac.

Harper said, "Isaac couldn't walk or even lift his arms. Isaac also suffered from a life-threatening re-feeding syndrome."

She also said, "he has brain shrinkage from the effects of starvation."

"One of the attorney's asked for postponement until they have more time to review that medical evidence," Lennan said.

Shamsie has also ordered that all parties involved in the case undergo a psychological evaluation.

In the meantime, Madrigal has asked for the custody hearing to be postponed because they were not given a chance to review medical evidence.

In addition, Isaac, his sisters and Villareal will have to undergo the evaluations.

An exact date hasn't been set yet, but whoever is picked to give the evaluations must be approved by both parties.

One month after the psychological evaluation are given, a status hearing will be held to determine where Isaac and his three sisters will be placed.

Judge Shamsie will use those evaluations to make his decision.


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