Defense, ADA Differ On Child Neglect Case

OSWEGO, NY – The Oswego Town couple accused of failing to supply adequate food to their (then) 14-month-old twins appear to be headed for twin trials.

" data-medium-file="" data-large-file="" class="size-medium wp-image-34316" title="R Graham" src="" alt="Richard Graham carries a child as he heads out of Oswego County Court on Tuesday." width="300" height="320" srcset=" 300w, 150w, 460w, 700w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />
Richard Graham carries a child as he heads out of Oswego County Court on Tuesday.

Richard and Katherine Graham of 208 Furniss Station Road, Oswego Town, appeared in court today (March 23), each with their own lawyer.

Richard is being represented by Tim Kirwan, Katherine by Courtney Radick.

Kirwan said the prosecution’s case doesn’t reflect conduct stated in the Grahams’ indictment, which is the parents did not provide proper nutrition to the twins.

When the children didn’t appear to be gaining weight properly, he pointed out that the parents took them to see a doctor.

And later, Radick added that allegations that the Grahams only feed the twins watered down milk were also untrue. The infants also received rice, baby food, oatmeal and cereal, she said.

In court today, Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bell noted he is using the merits of a previous case to prove his case against the Grahams.

Radick, however, argued at length that the case Bell is citing doesn’t match the indictment against her client (and Richard) at all.

Both Grahams are charged with two counts of assault and reckless endangerment (felonies) and two counts each of assault and endangering the welfare of a child (misdemeanors).

The twins are currently in foster care.

In the (Dickerson) case that Bell mentioned, the parents starved, beat and abused their five-year-old; the child died.

Oswego County Court Judge Walter Hafner told Bell he failed to see any similarities between the two cases.

Katherine Graham, right, talks with her attorney prior to leaving Oswego County Court on Tuesday.
Katherine Graham, right, talks with her attorney prior to leaving Oswego County Court on Tuesday.

“The Dickerson case is about a 5-year-old who was 15 pounds; was starved to such a degree that her body began to break down her organs for nourishment. She was kept in a filthy crib, never allowed to leave that crib, not allowed to see a doctor until she was 10 months old. The child had scars and bruises on her body. The parents restricted her food to scraps. They swung her around in a plastic bag until the bag broke and she flew into a dresser,” the judge pointed out.

The Dickersons “borrowed a neighbor’s child” to pose as theirs when police investigated complaints of child abuse in their house, he continued.

In the Dickerson case, the parents’ conduct “as a whole” showed a “prolonged case of heinous conduct,” the judge pointed out.

“I don’t see the similarities here,” Hafner told the ADA. “How does that compare to the facts of this case?”

The children were being malnourished, Bell noted.

“But what about the beatings and all the other stuff?” the judge asked.

He said Bell was picking out one little aspect (from the Dickerson case) with regard to not being feed properly and trying to pigeon hole the Graham case.

The Grahams’ twins could have died, Bell said.

“Here, the children were put at a grave risk of death,” Bell told the judge. “They certainly could have died. It was that close.”

In the Dickerson case, the court said the conduct “as a whole” constituted a prolonged course of heinous conduct, Hafner noted. It didn’t say not feeding the child was a heinous course of conduct, he added.

Both attorneys agreed that they felt “People v Dickerson” wasn’t on point with the Grahams’ case.

“The parents in that case had a history of abusing the child,” Radick said. “They lied to people and said the child was living in another state at certain points in time when people came over to look for that child.”

These parents never hid the children from anyone, she said of the Grahams.

The question, she said, is did they provide adequate nutrition and sustenance, she said.

“It’s not intentional conduct, certainly not depraved indifference,” she continued.

The Grahams’ twins were in grave risk of death and their parents knew that and they did nothing, Bell countered.

The Grahams are free on $5,000 bail.

They left the courthouse without making any comment.

They still have custody of four of their children while the twins, now 22 months old, are in foster care.

The Grahams will be back in court April 6. Two hearings will be scheduled to determine what is admissible at the Grahams’ trials should the cases get that far.