Another child with special needs neglected.
Another child starved to death.
Another child singled out for maltreatment.
Another story of medical neglect causing death.
Today’s story is like so many others I’ve covered before, and they just keep coming in faster than I can cover them all. Nonetheless, this precious little girl deserves her name spoken, her voice heard, and her story told.
On June 7, 2020, a couple brought their unresponsive five-year-old daughter, Kylie Mickens, to the Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Braselton, Georgia. Kylie, who was born with a chromosome disorder called 1p36 deletion syndrome, was clearly emaciated and weighed only seven pounds, which is the size of an average newborn, so medical staff contacted the Hall County Sheriff’s Office and reported potential medical neglect.
Meanwhile, Kylie was flown to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Hospital at Scottish Rite, where she languished for one day, ultimately passing away on Monday, June 8, 2020. She would have turned six in August.
The HCSO, in conjunction with the Hall County Division of Family & Children Services, launched an investigation into this sweet little girl’s death, which included interviews, searches of the family’s home on Rustic Pine Lane in Buford, and an autopsy by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Medical Examiner’s Office, the results of which were finally returned earlier this month.
Kylie’s death was ruled a homicide caused by dehydration and malnutrition due to medical neglect.
On Tuesday, October 27, Kylie’s father, 31-year-old Jerrail Maurice Mickens, and her mother, 29-year-old Porscha Danielle Mickens (nee Pitts), were arrested and charged with felony murder and first degree cruelty to children. The couple shares two other children, both of whom are reportedly in good physical condition and perfectly healthy.
The Mickens’ attorney, Corinne Mull, said both Jerrail and Porscha plan to plead not guilty, saying that Kylie’s rare disorder made it difficult for her to eat, drink, and swallow. “She had a hard time keeping weight on from birth,” the attorney told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “This is a medical issue, not a starvation issue. Their other two children are perfectly healthy.”
Ms. Mull has filed a motion for a bond hearing in the case. In the meantime, Jerrail and Porscha Mickens are being held in the Hall County Jail with no bond. Kylie’s case remains under investigation.
Kylie’s paternal grandmother, Julia Mickens, posted on Facebook on June 12:
“I would like to take the time to say thank you to everyone for your continued prayers and support. I have permission from my son and daughter to inform every one of the passing of my 5 year old granddaughter, Kylie Layla Mickens. When Kylie was born she was diagnosed with a rare condition and only expected to live 2 years. However we experienced a true miracle and were able to enjoy 5 years with her. Kylie was my little diva and always found a way to tell me what she liked and didn’t like. Although we are grateful for the time we had it will never be enough. Kylie’s fight is over and she is now at rest, our fight is going on. We are currently fighting the state amidst trying to bury my granddaughter. Burial fees and legal fees are adding up and the cost are overwhelming us. We are humbly reaching out for support. If our situation speaks to your heart and you would like to help, please use the info below. We forever appreciate your prayers and support during our time of need. CashApp: $Peace4Kylie”
It is not clear what Julia meant when she referenced “fighting the state.”
For clarification, those born with 1p36 deletion syndrome, which is a chromosome disorder, typically suffer severe intellectual disabilities, and most speak very few words, if any. Most affected have structural abnormalities of the brain, some have behavioral issues such as biting themselves or throwing temper tantrums, and more than half endure seizures. The disorder causes weak muscle tone, swallowing difficulties, a small head and distinctive facial features, vision and hearing problems; abnormalities of the skeleton, heart, gastrointestinal system, kidneys, or genitalia. Treatment for those with the disorder depends on their individual symptoms.
Of course, the worst of humanity had to show its ugly face; after Julia’s son, Jerrail, and his wife Porscha were arrested on October 27, people started making despicable comments on Julia’s post, such as “Her sick as fucking son is being charged with murdering this poor baby. I hope he & the ‘mother’ rot in prison!” That comment was followed by, “Do not give a dime to this sick people!”
I absolutely detest this mindset: immediately blaming other members of the family without knowing the first thing about the circumstances or situation. We have no idea what Julia or any other family member knew; it’s entirely possible she had no idea Kylie was being neglected, even if she saw her regularly. For all we know, she was led to believe Kylie’s emaciated state was normal for a child with her genetic condition.
For the record, I despise the people who hear about this kind of story and immediately run to Facebook to attack family members. The lack of basic human empathy that makes itself obvious in times like this is almost as appalling to me as the crimes I cover on my blog and my podcast.
The family held a funeral for Kylie on Saturday, June 20 at the Murray Brothers Funeral Home Cascade Chapel in Atlanta.
Interestingly, it doesn’t seem money was a problem for these people, at least based on their living conditions. In 2017, they bought their brand new four-bedroom, four-bathroom home, which is located on a cul-de-sac in an affluent neighborhood in Buford, Georgia. According to Trulia, the 4,200 square foot home is currently worth over $490,000.
The next court date for Jerrail and Porscha Mickens is currently unknown, but I will post updates as I hear them.
There’s not much information out there yet about Kylie herself, but I know some members of her family called her “Kylie Smiley” and “ladybug,” and she had a close relationship with several of them.
Kylie’s maternal uncle, Lavailro Pitts, commented on Facebook, saying, “I’ma miss you my lil nieces I love seeing you sleeping like a angel princess you always been and looking around everyone surrounding you with love caring blessing seeing your beautiful eyes open when you wake up from your sleep seeing you be watching your favorite movie you up there watching over your family you will never be forgotten love and miss you Kylie smiley”
Click here for my ongoing coverage of Kylie’s story.
Sources: Fox5 Atlanta, KHOU-11, The Augusta Chronicle, Fox24/ABC16 WGXA, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Gainesville Times, The New York Post, National Institutes of Health – National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences – Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center, Trulia, Facebook