CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Criminal charges will not be filed against a
former Charlotte group home worker involved in the death of a
12-year-old Buncombe County girl, a prosecutor said Monday.
police and the Mecklenburg District Attorney's Office investigated
the Sept. 11 death of Shirley Arciszewski at Covenant Group Home, a
home for mentally ill children.
The was living at the
home when she became combative and was restrained by a staff member,
North Carolina group
home regulators said the worker, identified in a state report as
Valisia Gaye Callahan, 45, had lain across the child's back and
didn't immediately stop when Shirley complained that she couldn't
An autopsy showed
Shirley died of asphyxia caused by an adult laying on her.
studied the case, they found insufficient evidence to proceed
against Callahan, Assistant District Attorney David Graham said.
"We've got one
eyewitness who has given two significantly different versions of
what she saw," Graham said. "It did appear to me that Ms. Callahan
used poor judgment in her use of physical force ... but the evidence
is insufficient to show beyond a reasonable doubt that Ms. Callahan
restrained her in a criminally negligent manner."
Shirley's aunt, Loretta
D'Souza of Fort Myers, Fla., said Monday that she was disappointed
with the district attorney's decision.
"How can they not say
somebody's liable for it?" she said. "When you drink and drive and
kill someone, you don't mean it, but you get arrested."
completed training in restraining children, state regulators said,
but was still allowed to work alone. Covenant owner Ronda Carson
said in a written statement in September that Callahan telephoned
her to report that Shirley was combative and destroying property.
She said she instructed
Callahan "to deescalate Shirley and to restrain her if necessary."
The autopsy report said
that Callahan thought Shirley stopped struggling because her
medication was taking effect.
After the incident, the
state closed the home and fined its owners $10,000.
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