The first shock, a teenager’s mysterious death while in a juvenile detention center, is joined by more revelations.
By MARY SANCHEZ
The Kansas City Star
Kathia Casseus, a seemingly healthy 16-year-old, died while in Jackson County Family Court’s juvenile detention center in February.
Now, it’s questionable if she should have been sent there.
Kathia complained of heart palpitations and shortness of breath for several days before dying of blood clotting in her lungs. She’d been put on a birth control patch, without her mother’s knowledge, while in custody.
The contraceptives are alleged to have contributed to her death, according to a wrongful death lawsuit.
Kathia’s school records, obtained by attorneys for the family, open up even more unanswered questions.
Kathia’s functional IQ was 68, which means she falls within an intellectually disabled range.
Now it’s questionable if her outbursts, the cussing, the erratic decision-making were symptoms solely of juvenile delinquency — or were her problems complicated by developmental difficulties?
Consider the recklessness that led to her being placed with juvenile authorities. Kathia took her mother’s car for a joyride. She slammed into a long carport, causing it to fall, damaging multiple vehicles.
Kathia never had driven. She had no license.
The stunt got her an eight-month sentence. Harsh, for sure. Questionably strict, now that her mental capacity is known.
Kathia had no prior juvenile records, according to her mother and attorneys.
Inactivity while in the youth facilities may have contributed to her death, according to the medical examiner’s report. A detention staffer reported joking with Kathia about her weight gain, trying to encourage more exercise.
Staffers at the center also described Kathia’s outbursts to sheriff’s detectives investigating the death. They said she acted out if confronted, threw temper tantrums, screamed and cussed, even as she complained of feeling sick, records show.
One staffer surmised that Kathia’s behavior was that of a person who had trouble communicating what she really needed. It’s unclear if she knew of Kathia’s lower mental capacity.
The staffer also told a detective that she was unsure of protocol in calling emergency help when the center’s nurse didn’t immediately answer a voicemail about Kathia feeling ill.
The girl’s mother, Nesly Destil, said she assumed until too late that her daughter was being treated appropriately. She was OK with Kathia being held for a long punishment after the car incident, believing authorities might be able to get her daughter under control.
Destil is a single parent, raising two other children. She’s a Haitian immigrant who has lived in Kansas City about 10 years, relocating from New York.
“I wanted her somewhere safe,” she said.
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