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Fla. Man Charged With Child’s Death

August 29, 2002

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ A man has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of his 4-year-old stepson, as child welfare officials investigate why caseworkers ignored reports saying the boy was abused.

D’Andre Bannister, 20, faces life in prison or execution if convicted in the Aug. 9 death of Tarquez Woodson. Bannister also was charged Wednesday with aggravated child abuse and two counts of kidnapping.

The kidnapping counts apparently relate to Bannister’s alleged refusal to let the boy’s mother, Pameka Robinson, 21, immediately rush Tarquez to the hospital.

Bannister was initially charged with manslaughter. No charges have been filed against Robinson; the investigation is continuing, Palm Beach County State Attorney Barry Krischer said.

A call to Bannister’s public defender was not immediately returned Thursday.

Tarquez was taken from Robinson and Bannister in April 2000 after he was brought limping and bruised to the hospital. He was returned to the couple the following September.

Krischer said the Department of Children & Families received two reports of abuse after it ended supervision of the family last year.

In August 2001, Bannister was charged with domestic violence. The following month, Robinson received a temporary restraining order against Bannister after he was arrested for cocaine possession.

Those cases were closed and Tarquez remained with his parents.

Based on those reports, the agency is required to ask a judge if caseworkers should intervene or remove the child from the home, Krischer said.

DCF officials will not comment while reviewing the case, agency spokeswoman Mary Jones said.

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