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Surviving twin sent to relative

A judge places the 4-month-old with a great aunt, while providing visitation to the mother.

By BILL VARIAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 26, 2000


INVERNESS -- A circuit judge on Wednesday placed an infant girl, whose twin Crystal River police say was shaken to death by her father last month, in the care of her maternal great aunt.

The child's mother, Lindsey Ammerman, was granted visitation of her daughter, 4-month-old Kelsey Ammerman-Slater, at the home of her aunt, Fayette Whitehead of Hernando.

The ruling came over the objections of Ammerman's mother, Carla Hernandez, who had sought placement of her granddaughter with her. But an attorney for the Department of Children and Families said a study of Hernandez and her home raised concerns about her alcohol use and police visits to her Crystal River house.

The attorney, Susan Stephens Anders, said medical workers told DCF that Hernandez smelled of alcohol when she visited Seven Rivers Community Hospital with the twins a month before the death of her granddaughter, Lacie.

"That's a lie," Hernandez told Judge Michael Blackstone, who threatened to have her removed from the courtroom if she made any more outbursts.

"I never showed up at the hospital with Kelsey smelling like alcohol," Hernandez said afterward. "There's no reason that baby couldn't have come home with me."

Children and Families has noted instances in which police visited Hernandez's home in reference to verbal disputes, but Hernandez said afterward that she didn't start the disputes and noted that no one was charged. She is permitted to visit the child, but only at the Children and Families offices.

Blackstone also denied placement of Kelsey with Ammerman for the time being. Anders, the Children and Families attorney, told the judge that Ammerman has been heard describing Kelsey as "the bad twin" because she cries often, in arguing against placement with her.

Ammerman said afterward that she has not described her child that way.

Nevertheless, after an off-the-record private bench conference, Blackstone opted to place the child with Whitehead, which was the recommendation of Children and Families.

Ammerman's boyfriend and father of the twins, Ricky Slater, is charged with first-degree murder in Lacie's death. Kelsey was found to have similar injuries to her sister's.

Ammerman's attorney, Jack Moring, said in court that his client and her mother are not being investigated in connection to the injuries, based on his conversations with police and the State Attorney's Office.

While Ammerman had hoped that her mother at least would be granted custody of Kelsey, she said placement with her aunt is better than the child remaining in state shelter care.

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