Veteran family law attorney says CPS could have saved baby burned to death in oven

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According to court documents, 25-year-old Racquel Thompson and her 21-year-old live-in boyfriend Cornell Malone left her four children, the oldest 5, all alone for at least 2 hours on November 17th.

Police say the couple returned home to find a stand-alone oven tipped over and her youngest child dead after being extremely burned.

“These kids could have been removed out of a dangerous situation as early as 2012,” said Thompson’s attorney Julie Ketterman. “And maybe we wouldn’t be standing here today.”

In court documents, CPS says Thompson successfully completed family-based services in 2012.
That’s why the children weren’t removed.

“That’s suspect that she successfully completed it,” Ketterman said.

“CPS did not do the job they should have done in the past couple of years to protect the welfare and safety of these children,” said attorney James Hedlesten.

Ketterman, a veteran family law attorney says CPS didn’t take the kids into protective custody because they are African American and siblings which Ketterman says makes them more difficult to place in foster homes.

“There’s no way for CPS to make money off of them,” Ketterman said.

CPS gets local state and federal funding for kids in foster care or placed for adoption.
That’s not the case when children are placed with relatives.

“To make the money they have to be in a foster home,” said Ketterman.

Ketterman said the fact that Thompson is poor also played a part in CPS’s decision to leave her alone.
CPS has an array of vendors who make money from parents who can pay.

“We need to take profit out of the equation,” Ketterman said. “Because once it’s about money, that’s all it’s about.”

In a prepared statement, CPS said it finds Ketterman’s claims that race plays a part in removing children because of abuse or neglect offensive.

CPS says 49 percent of the children taken into protective custody in Harris County are African American.
But the state agency couldn’t tell us on Thursday how many of those African American children are in foster care as opposed to living with relatives.