The death of eight-year-old Braxton Wooden while he was living in a foster home in Alba is a senseless tragedy. What makes it even more tragic was the type of life Braxton had to live during his short time on this earth.
While you have to have sympathy for anyone who loses a child, the statements by Brandie McLean's lawyer Judd McPherson in today's Joplin Globe blaming the system for the death of Ms. McLean's son, Braxton Wooden, ring hollow.
As anyone who has watched television newscasts or read the Globe knows Ms. McLean, 28, had her five children taken away from her by the Department of Social Services after a Sept. 20, 2004, incident in which her two-year-old son was seen on the roof of her house at 123 E. 3rd Street.
Today's Globe reported "Police found McLean and a 16-year-old female friend asleep in the living room of the home. McLean has acknowledged that the situation was dangerous for her son. But she said she had been put on an antipsychotic drug, Seroquel, by a doctor about a week before the incident to treat her depression and stress, and that the drug made her sleepy all the time."
Ms. McLean has already pleaded guilty to the count of endangering a welfare of a child that stemmed from that incident, as well as to a forgery charge. A pre-sentence investigation was ordered by Judge Jon Dermott and sentencing is scheduled for June 24 in Jasper County Circuit Court.
These recent criminal charges came only two years after Ms. McLean pleaded guilty in Jasper County Circuit Court to a charge of unlawful use of drug paraphernalia. She was sentenced to one year in the county jail, the sentence was suspended, and she was placed on unsupervised probation for one year, according to court records.
She also has had a problem with showing up for scheduled court hearings, records indicate. She failed to appear five times for hearings on the forgery charges.
Braxton Wooden Sr., 29, Joplin, has a longer record than Ms. McLean's. He pleaded guilty Oct. 18, 2000, in Jasper County Circuit Court to unlawful use of drug paraphernalia and was sentenced to one year in the county jail. The sentence was suspended and he was placed on unsupervised probation for a year.
On Jan. 23, 2002, Wooden was arrested for felony marijuana possession. After he pleaded guilty on April 12, 2002, he was sentenced to three years in prison, but served only four months, from June 21 to Oct. 24, 2002, of shock time before being released.
Jasper County Circuit Court records show that he was extradited to Kansas for another crime, but do not give the nature of the crime.
He was charged with domestic assault on April 7, 2004, after he was arrested by the Webb City Police Department. On that same date, Brandie McLean filed for a protection order against him. She was granted a temporary restraining order.
When the hearing for a full protection order took place five days later, Ms. McLean failed to show up.
Braxton Wooden was sentenced to three years in prison for the assault and is currently at the Western Missouri Correctional Center in Cameron.