Court upholds termination of mother’s parental rights
GRANITE FALLS -- The Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed action by Yellow Medicine County and the district court to terminate the parental rights of a woman convicted of child endangerment -- the same woman under investigation in the deaths of he...
GRANITE FALLS - The Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed action by Yellow Medicine County and the district court to terminate the parental rights of a woman convicted of child endangerment - the same woman under investigation in the deaths of her two infant children whose remains were discovered in a South Dakota tree grove.
(READ MORE: Mother of infants in homicide investigation sentenced in child endangerment case)
The ruling released by the court on Monday rejects an appeal by Kelly Anderson-Person, 35, of Hendricks. She had appealed the termination of her parental rights to her youngest daughter, now 23 months of age.
She had been holding the child while being interviewed by two law officers from South Dakota in the homicide investigation into the deaths of her two infant children. During the interview August 13, 2013, at her home in Clarkfield, Anderson-Person pulled a revolver from under the sofa and placed it at the right side of her head in the direction of the child. The gun discharged into the ceiling as the officers wrestled it away from her.
Yellow Medicine County took the child into protective custody, and subsequently placed the child in the care of her father. He has subsequently obtained a divorce from Anderson-Person. She pleaded guilty to the gross misdemeanor charge of child endangerment on March 4.
She remains under investigation in Lincoln County for the deaths of the two infants, a boy and a girl. Their decomposed remains had been found in a cooler in a tree grove in November 2012 in Deuel County, S.D., on property owned by Anderson-Person’s family. Court documents state that she told the two officers who interviewed her last August that she gave birth to the two infants and also that she said she had disposed of the remains.
None of the public court documents examined by the Tribune indicate whether Anderson-Person has told authorities how the babies died.
However, an expert engaged by South Dakota authorities following the discovery of the remains classified the deaths as homicides.
Anderson-Person was civilly committed for mental health treatment after pulling the gun during the 2013 police interview, and the ruling released Monday details that she met with several mental health professionals for treatment and assessment following her hospitalization.
Yellow Medicine County had told her that it would move to terminate her parental rights if it could not ensure that she could safely parent the child, the court stated. Further evaluation was needed to determine whether the child could safely be returned to her care, and she refused.
The Court of Appeals decision states that Anderson-Person refused to submit to a forensic psychological evaluation because of the potential for criminal charges related to the deaths of the two babies.
The district court found that Anderson-Person was “palpably unfit’’ to parent the child. It also found that she suffers from mental illness.
Anderson-Person had challenged the district court decision for relying on testimony by medical professionals who disagreed in their diagnosis of her mental health. In affirming the district court decision, the Court of Appeals stated that the district court did not rely on the challenged testimony.
It also did not need to resolve the disagreements “because (mother)’s actual conduct speaks for itself and is sufficient to find her palpably unfit,’’ the court stated.
A statement of facts accompanying the decision reported that the babies whose remains had been discovered were born in 2009 and 2011. Anderson-Person was caring for a daughter born in July 2006 during this time.
She concealed the 2009 and 2011 pregnancies from her family, did not seek prenatal care and gave birth to each child in a bathtub. She wrapped the body of each child in a garbage bag and placed them in a chest freezer. She removed the bodies and put them in a cooler on the family’s property in South Dakota sometime around the birth of her youngest daughter in anticipation of moving in with the father, according to the findings in the decision issued Monday.
The ruling did not refer to the cause of death for either baby. It noted that she did not have assistance with either birth and in the first birth “did nothing to help the baby breathe.’’