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Jury Returns Guilty Verdict Over Teen's Restraint Death
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 10, 2007

ALBANY, NEW YORK--After deliberating for just four hours, a jury returned late Wednesday with a guilty verdict for Edwin Tirado Jr. on a charge of manslaughter.

Tirado faces up to 15 years in prison when he is sentenced on December 14.

The jury found that Tirado, a worker at the state-run Oswald D. Heck Developmental Center, recklessly took the life of 13-year-old resident Jonathan Carey while restraining him on a February 15 outing.

During the 10-day trial, prosecutors said that Tirado and fellow O.D. Heck employee Nadeem Mall took Carey and a 16-year-old resident on what was supposed to be an outing to a shopping center. While Mall, the driver, was out of the vehicle using a bank ATM, Tirado improperly restrained Carey in the back of the van, "squeezing the life" out of him.

At some point, Carey, who had autism and could not talk, stopped breathing, lost consciousness, and died.

Assistant District Attorney David Rossi told reporters after the verdict was read that what "really sealed the deal" was testimony that Tirado did not seek help for the teenager. Instead of administering CPR, calling for help, or taking the boy to an emergency room, the two staffers drove around for the next 90 minutes, picking up drinks at a convenience store, purchasing a video game at a toy store, and dropping it off at Tirado's home, before heading back to the facility -- all the time knowing Carey's dead body was in the back of the van.

Mall pleaded guilty in July to criminal negligent homicide, accepting a six-month sentence in exchange for his testimony against Tirado.

On Tuesday, Tirado testified on his own behalf, saying he did not know Carey had died until they arrived back at the institution.

Tirado's defense attorney vowed to appeal the ruling.

Carey's death prompted New York lawmakers to pass "Jonathan's Law", a measure that gives parents and guardians of children at state-run institutions access to child abuse investigation files and medical history records. The law requires facility officials to notify parents and guardians within 24 hours of a report of abuse and neglect. Additionally, officials must meet with parents or guardians and explain what action was taken in response to each report.

For two years prior to their son's death, Michael and Lisa Carey had pushed for parents to have greater access to information about their children's treatment at residential facilities.

"Today is a very sad day for us and the Tirado family," Mrs. Carey told reporters Wednesday.

"Jury: Tirado guilty of manslaughter" (Times-Union)

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