MONTPELIER (AP) -- The Vermont Senate panel reviewing child protection matters is considering using subpoena power to request records and documents related to the case of Dezirae Sheldon, a Poultney toddler who died after arriving at the hospital with severe head trauma in February.
The 2-year-old’s stepfather, Dennis Duby, has pleaded not guilty to murder charges.
The co-chairs of the committee said Wednesday that they learned about record discrepancies involving Sheldon’s mother, 31-year-old Sandra Eastman. Sen. Dick Sears, a Bennington Democrat, thinks the errors may have influenced Dezirae’s case and kept her in the custody of a mother with previous criminal charges, the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus reported.
Legislative counsel Michelle Childs is reviewing public records for the committee and said an incorrect charge code appeared on a plea document. Childs also said Eastman’s court documents indicate she was supposed to be listed on the sex offender registry but is not on the online site.
Eastman was charged with sexual assault in 2008 for having sexual relations with a 15-year-old boy when she was 24, which resulted in her becoming pregnant. Eastman agreed to a plea deal, pleading guilty to lewd and lascivious conduct with a child, but served less than the minimum time for the crime, Childs said.
The amended information also provided an incorrect code for the charge, which was picked up by the court and tainted subsequent court records, Childs told the panel.
"For me, there’s enough questions about what happened in this case that I want the committee to consider getting a subpoena power from the Senate," said Sears. "I think we have an obligation now to look at some of the records now that are not available to us, and documents, just based on the public documents."
The Department of Children and Families is continuing its internal investigation, Commissioner David Yacavone said. Yacavone said he has learned some things about the case but hasn’t reached any conclusions, the Burlington Free Press reported. "There are some things I have to corroborate," Yacavone said.