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Carthage mother who murdered disabled daughter claims Army should have provided more help

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A former Carthage woman serving up to life in prison for killing her 3-year-old daughter with cerebral palsy claims in a $20 million federal lawsuit that unnamed Fort Drum officials provided inadequate care to the child, hastening her death.

Mandi T. Griffin, who is acting as her own attorney, filed suit Thursday in U.S. District Court, Syracuse, against “John or Jane Doe(s) et al” and “General of U.S. Army” at Fort Drum alleging “deliberate indifference” to the child’s medical needs. The child’s father, Darryl A. Griffin, was a soldier assigned to the post at the time of her death.

Griffin, 34, is serving 22 years to life for second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter and second-degree assault, all felonies; and a misdemeanor count of endangering a child’s welfare in the February 2005 beating death of her daughter Vanessa.

She was found guilty at trial in Jefferson County Court in December 2005. She is incarcerated at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, Westchester County.

Trial testimony revealed that the child died after her head was banged repeatedly against a wooden portion of a couch at her Carthage apartment. After the beating, Griffin placed the child face down on a bed because she did not want to hear the child scream. The mother left her alone while she exercised in the living room and then took a two-hour bath instead of seeking medical attention.

A medical examiner testified at the trial that the child had been dead for three to five hours before she was brought to Carthage Area Hospital emergency room. Two state police investigators testified that Griffin admitted to the beating because she was frustrated with caring for Vanessa.

In her lawsuit, Griffin maintains that the Army displayed “malfeasance” and “deliberate negligence” by failing to provide Vanessa with “adequate health care and proper equipment for her survival.” Griffin contends that the lack of adequate medical care was “one prelude to her untimely death.”

Griffin claims the alleged lack of care violated her rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Rehabilitation Act. She claims that the alleged inadequate care constituted “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Describing the relief she seeks from the court, Griffin wrote, “For all Army bases to be in compliance according to ADA standards of medical care for children. Also, to respond promptly when necessary care is needed.” The suit also seeks $20 million in punitive and compensatory damages.

Griffin has a separate federal action pending in which she claims to be unlawfully detained for killing her daughter. She claims in that action that no expert testimony was presented on her behalf at her trial. She also maintains that her attorney did not investigate any alternative cause of her daughter’s death. She is representing herself in that action as well.

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