Moral Low Ground


2-Year-Old Texas Girl Removed from Parents over Father’s Marijuana Use Murdered by Foster Mother

November 14, 2014 by Brett Wilkins in Crime & Punishment, Drugs with 3 Comments

Alex HillA 2-year-old Texas girl whose parents were stripped of custody largely due to her father’s marijuana use was murdered by her foster mother, who was sentenced last Tuesday to life behind bars.

The Bryan-College Station Eagle reports a Milam County jury took less than five hours to find Sherill Small, 55, guilty of capital murder for the July 29, 2013 killing of Alex Hill.

Despite appearing healthy and happy, Alex was removed from the custody of her parents, Mary Sweeny and Joshua Hill, after her father admitted to smoking marijuana after putting the child to bed at night.

Clemons Small, Sherill’s 52-year-old husband, lived in the foster home at the same time as Alex. He is a recovering crack cocaine addict who had admitted to multiple drug charges and was convicted for selling marijuana, the Dallas Morning News reports.

The prospective foster parents disclosed this information to state officials during their application, but their home was still considered a “safe environment,” Fox 43 reports.

Additionally, neither of the child’s foster parents were gainfully employed. According to Rockdale Police Chief Thomas Harris, the couple planned on fostering five or six children as a source of income.

Furthermore, one of their biological daughters told police she had been removed from Small’s care by Child Protective Services for neglect, and Harris told reporters that another one of her biological children called CPS to warn them that the woman was unfit to be a foster parent.

Hill and Sweeny had reported bruises on Alex which they noticed during visitations, but were never told about the foster parents’ history of violations.

Around 7:00 p.m. on July 29, 2013, Sherill Small called 911 and reported that Alex had stopped breathing. Paramedics rushed the toddler to a Rockdale hospital with severe head injuries. The child was then airlifted to a children’s hospital in Temple, where she remained in a coma until Sweeny and Hill decided to remove her from life support two days later.

Chief Harris told reporters that Sherill Small initially claimed the girl’s injuries were accidental.

“Her story was the child was running backwards and fell and hit her head and caused this injury,” Harris said, according to KTBC.

But Small soon changed her story.

“In her statement what she said was she actually slammed the child on the ground and she claims it was an accident that she was swinging the child in a downward motion and dropped the child. So it went from the child was running backwards to, I was horsing around,” said Harris.

According to the medical examiner’s court testimony, the slain toddler’s head hit the floor so hard that she had “subdural hemorrhaging, subarachnoid hemorrhaging, and retinal hemorrhaging in both eyes.”

(Family photo)

(Family photo)

The case garnered international attention and brought intense scrutiny upon Texas Mentor, a state agency which places children in foster homes. Some child welfare experts who have reviewed the agency’s numerous violations allege its vetting process for prospective foster parents is deeply flawed.

“They’re not learning enough about these people,” Irene Clemens, a retired child placement agency executive from Austin, told the Morning News.

Former state district judge Scott McCown told the paper that stories like Hill’s “make me wonder exactly where they’re recruiting these foster parents and how they’re screening them.”

Alex’s relatives reacted to Small’s sentencing on a Facebook page titled“Justice 4 Alex Hill”:

“Happy birthday to my baby girl this Friday, she would have been 4 years old… today we got justice served for you baby girl! I never meant for this to happen, and I miss you so much! I love you and I’m so sorry, but that evil woman is gone forever and I wish you weren’t… I love you so much my little pumpkin… I will see you on the other side.”

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  1. Gloria HuffNovember 14, 2014 at 8:02 pmReply

    A child gets taken away from her parents cause the father smoked a little weed. Gets placed in a bad foster home where the child ends up dying.. that’s sad. You have crack whores spitting out babies that hasn’t worked a day in their life living off the government but that’s okay?? They’ll give you a place to live, food stamps, health care, and whatever else. Smoke your crack, shoot up whatever you prefer, and eat you some bath salts while your at it. Sell your food stamps to support your habits while your children go without.

    It’s just a shame how the government works. I understand there is people out there that actually needs the help but not people like that. This is what our tax dollars goes towards. Kids that actually need taken away from their parents are left there to suffer. If child care services, the government, and police officers would focus on the big picture and not petty shit like pot smokers.. maybe the US would be a better place.

    Marijuana doesn’t make you neglect your kids. You can be high, fully functional, and still take care of your kids. It’s not a drug and it’s not as bad as people put it out to be. Alcohol is legal, give parents that. Instead of them watching their kids they’re either passed out, drooling on themselves with their slurred speech telling their kids to get in the car cause mommy and daddy need another bottle or case.

  2. David MacKAYNovember 19, 2014 at 1:29 pmReply

    In several states Parents, judges, Lawyers and even Police officers can and do smoke pot for recreational purposes and those states will not abduct their children.
    In Texas if just a father admits to smoking Pot the state can and does take away the children …in order to provide… further funding for the Private Foster Parent Industry.
    Imagine a state that creates “at risk children” just so the state can kill those children the States way.
    Imagine Texas.
    Texas formerly the land of the free…gone but not forgotten.

    • SWalkerTTUDecember 11, 2014 at 4:30 amReply

      Texas has always been like this. The concept of “freedom” in Texas has never been much more than an advertising slogan.

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