In filings this week in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, each side asked that the other not be allowed to provide information during trial.
Documents filed Tuesday indicate the lawyers for Missouri Department of Social Services and case workers John McGinnis and Mickey Morgan are asking that no information concerning previous lawsuits against the defendants be allowed into evidence. "Such testimony would have the tendency to unfairly prejudice the jury and therefore would be substantially more prejudicial probative," the document said.
The defendants also do not want any evidence introduced "concerning other child fatalities and/or injuries sustained by children, other than Braxton Wooden, under the custody and supervision of the Missouri Department of Social Services," or evidence about "any changes to the DSS's policy related to firearms, or to the care and custody of minor children." That evidence would be "irrelevant" the document said.
The defense also asked that no autopsy photos of Braxton Wooden be allowed into evidence. The laywers indicated they would admit that the boy is dead. "Such photos are highly inflammatory in nature, and could induce extreme outrage and sympathy from the jury."
The other side has also been filing away, including a request that Braxton's aunt, Rhonda Stone be removed as the person filing on his behalf and be replaced by the original party, Braxton's mother, Brandie McLean.
Ms. McLean is also asking that certain evidence not be allowed, including any evidence concerning "convictions, arrests, or pending charges against Brandie McLean."
Plaintiffs also move to exclude evidence of Brandie McLean’s marital status at
the time of the birth of her children. Such evidence is irrelevant under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 401 and furthermore would be prejudicial and not relevant to the issues before the jury.
Plaintiffs move to exclude any evidence that Braxton Wooden was murdered by
E.G. (Ethan Gordon) E.G. was convicted of negligent homicide in the juvenile court system and there has been no adjudication that E.G. was guilty of any crime of showing intent, but rather acted negligently. Therefore, any and all statements, news articles, charges or evidence or insinuation that Braxton
Wooden was murdered should be excluded by the court.
Braxton Wooden was shot to death by 15-year-old Ethan Gordon, while under the foster care of Gordon's parents, Mark and Treva Gordon of Alba. The family has already settled for $100,000,
The lawsuit was filed Aug. 26, 2005, in Jasper County Circuit Court and was later transferred to federal court. The following information is taken from the Oct. 5, 2005 Turner Report:
The lawsuit was originally filed Aug. 26 in Jasper County Circuit Court by Brandie McLean's Braxton's mother. Braxton was in the care of Mark and Treva Gordon, Alba, when he was shot to death by their 15-year-old son, Ethan Gordon, on June 2. Ethan Gordon is also a defendant in the lawsuit, as are Social Services caseworkers John McGinnis and Mickey Morgan. A notice or removal to federal court was filed last week.
According to the petition, "Ethan Gordon knew or should have known that the gun was loaded with ammunition."
Mark and Treva Gordon owned the 38 caliber Smith and Wesson gun that killed Braxton Wooden, as well as other weapons and ammunition, the petition said. "Weapons, specifically firearms, were accessible to the children in the foster home in violation of state foster care regulations and Missouri Department of Social Services Children's Division policy."
The petition continues, "Mark and Treva Gordon knew or should have known the location in which they kept the gun was accessible to the minor child," and that Ethan Gordon "was not mature enough to exercise the proper degree of care in the use and control of the gun."
Ms. Morgan and her McGinnis, who was her manager and supervisor, were also responsible for Braxton Wooden's death, the lawsuit said, because they failed to determine "that Mark and Treva Gordon were unfit persons to act as foster parents."
The caseworkers also failed to "monitor" and to provide "adequate supervision and caseworker services to Braxton Deshawn Wooden," the petition said.
It also said the caseworkers failed to investigate whether hazardous items were accessible to children. The petition says, "Braxton Deshawn Wooden was subject to physical and emotional deprivation" and he suffered "severe and violent injuries," and was "subject to extreme emotional and psychological distress in that he suffered and endured an unstable family environment, humiliation, mental anguish and fear."
The state workers were "negligent, careless, grossly negligent, imprudent and reckless and totally without thought as to the safety and welfare of others and with complete indifference to or conscious disregard for the safety of others," the petition said.