The attorney for a Buford couple charged with felony murder said the death of the couple’s 5-year-old daughter came after years of living with a rare chromosomal disorder that hampered her ability to eat and drink.
Jerrail Maurice Mickens, 31, and Porscha Danielle Mickens, 29, were arrested Tuesday, Oct. 27, at their home in Buford, and both are charged with felony murder and first-degree child cruelty.
Hall County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Derreck Booth said deputies received reports on June 7 from Northeast Georgia Medical Center officials regarding Kylie Mickens’ condition, when she was brought to the hospital by her parents.
The girl, who only weighed 7 pounds, was transported to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Booth said.
Kylie died the next day, and the Division of Family and Children Services worked the case with investigators, who conducted interviews and a search at the Mickens home.
Attorney Corinne Mull said they believe this is not a murder.
“We’ve done our own investigation, and that will come out in the court when the time is right,” she said. “As I say, we don’t believe it’s a crime at all, much less felony murder and cruelty.”
Hall County Deputy Coroner James Bell said the girl was diagnosed with 1p36 deletion syndrome.
The Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health, said most people diagnosed with the syndrome “have structural abnormalities of the brain, and seizures occur in more than half of individuals with this disorder.”
“Affected individuals usually have weak muscle tone and swallowing difficulties,” according to the rare diseases information center. “Other features include a small head that is unusually short and wide; vision and hearing problems; abnormalities of the skeleton, heart, gastrointestinal system, kidneys, or genitalia; and distinctive facial features.”
The syndrome is caused by a “deletion of genetic material” on chromosome 1, and an article in the American Journal of Medical Genetics said it affects 1 in 5,000 live births.
“She was a child with a chromosomal deficiency, which affected her ability to eat, to swallow, to drink water, so she was in bad shape,” Mull said. “The family was feeding her prepared food. She had a three-year life expectancy, and she lived five years.”
Mull said Kylie was taken for a number of years to a holistic doctor and never weighed much more than the 7 pounds described by law enforcement.
Mull said she had filed a bond motion Wednesday, Oct. 28, but she said she had not heard back on a date for a bond hearing in Superior Court.
Northeast Georgia Health System, the Longstreet Clinic and Mountain View Pediatrics did not make any of their staff available for interviews Wednesday, Oct. 28, concerning general health questions about malnutrition and weight for young children.
The case is still under investigation.