Saturday, November 5, 2011

Police: Foster parents allegedly hurt other child


The Post Falls foster parents arrested on Thursday in connection with the death of a 2-year-old girl they cared for nearly three years ago bonded out of the Kootenai County jail on Friday after their first appearance in court.

Jeremy Clark, 36, and his wife, Amber Clark, 28, were arrested after a grand jury assigned to the case came back with an indictment in the Karina Moore case on Wednesday night.

Both were being held in jail on $25,000 combined bonds on two counts of felony injury to a child, one count of concealing evidence and one count of perjury. The bond amount stayed the same during the first appearance before the couple bonded out of jail late Friday afternoon, according to jail staff.

During their court appearance earlier in the day, Amber sobbed while Jeremy showed little emotion. Several supporters of the Clarks attended their appearance.

The Clarks, represented by the county Public Defender's Office, declined to be interviewed on Friday, per their attorneys. Their attorneys could not be reached for comment.

The arraignment in district court is expected on Thursday. The case is expected to go to trial.

"When I became chief, bringing this to a conclusion was one of my top priorities," Post Falls Police Chief Scot Haug said. "My feeling was that somebody needed to be a voice for Karina. This was a very complex case that took interviewing dozens of medical experts, witnesses and reviewing digital and physical evidence.

"We wanted to make sure we had a good solid case (before making the arrests). We've always had a detective, sometimes two, assigned to the case for the past three years."

Haug and Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh declined to comment on details surrounding the charges or evidence.

"I can't talk about evidence," Haug said. "That will come out in court."

McHugh added: "They deserve a fair trial."

Haug said another child under the Clarks' care - a boy who was 4 at the time - was allegedly injured in the home between 2007 and 2008.

"The (injury to child) charges indicate physical harm done to the children, but I can't get into the specifics," Haug said.

The Clarks were registered foster parents for two years and had several children in their care, but haven't been registered with the state since the Moore case. They also have kids of their own.

Haug said he believes the Clarks were aware of the ongoing investigation during the past three years. A search warrant was recently served at their home.

Jeremy was arrested without incident at his house, while Amber was arrested at her Hayden workplace.

Haug said the Clarks were not cooperative with police during the investigation, but declined to specify.

The grand jury met on the case from Monday through Wednesday. Haug said it's rare that cases go to a grand jury, which speaks to the complexity of the Moore case. He said police supported McHugh's decision to have a grand jury consider the charges.

Karina's biological mother, Samantha Moore, couldn't be reached for comment on Friday. She earlier said she doesn't believe her daughter's death was an accident.

Haug said Samantha was pleased with the outcome of the case when he spoke with her on Thursday.

The Clarks, who had been Karina's foster parents for more than a year, told police that Karina fell about 4 feet down a flight of carpeted stairs during the Jan. 6, 2009, incident. Amber Clark told police she was on the couch and recognized that the child might fall, but the child fell to the bottom of the stairs before she could help. She called the incident a tragic accident.

Haug wouldn't comment if investigators believe the account was made up.

Clark claimed she performed CPR until emergency responders arrived and flew her to Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane. Police said Karina was at the bottom of the stairs when they arrived.

Karina was brain dead and comatose afterward and died 10 days later.

The Spokane County Medical Examiner's Office ruled the case a homicide, citing "blunt force head injuries."

However, the examiner's report did not corroborate with the initial police investigation nor the opinions of multiple doctors police interviewed at Kootenai Medical Center and Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, which determined the head and spleen injuries were consistent with an accidental fall.

John Howard, the medical examiner who performed the autopsy of Karina, said he could not comment on the evidence or factors that led him to the homicide determination.

Moore filed civil lawsuits against the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare in January this year in state and federal courts, claiming she reported abuse allegations against the Clarks to social workers twice, but her concerns weren't addressed.

The suit claims the IDHW "negligently and with reckless indifference failed to supervise the foster home ... which resulted in the death of Karina."

The suits have been stayed.

Karina and two of her siblings, a brother and sister, had been living with the Clarks. Moore has since regained custody of her two surviving children.

The Clarks hadn't been booked in the local jail before.

Staff writer David Cole contributed to this article.


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