Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Third Division
from the Circuit Court of St. Francois County 18SF-JU0012
Honorable Sandra Martinez
Court's own motion, the Per Curiam Order and Memorandum
filed in this case on August 20, 2019 is hereby withdrawn and
an Opinion is to issue.
K. HOFF, PRESIDING JUDGE
("Mother") appeals from the "Judgment and
Decree Terminating Parental Rights"
("Judgment") that terminated her parental rights to
S.R.H. ("Child") on the grounds of abuse and
neglect, under Section 211.447.5(2) RSMo 2000; failure to
rectify conditions, under Section 211.447.5(3); and parental
unfitness, under Section 211.447.5(6). We affirm.
and Procedural Background
was born in Texas on April 11, 2009. On May 9, 2015, Child
was placed under the physical and legal custody of the
Missouri Department of Social Services, Children's
Division ("Children's Division"). Child
remained in foster care continuously from May 2015 through
January 2018. On August 1, 2017, Child's father consented
to termination of his parental rights, which the trial court
approved and accepted on August 15, 2017. Father did not
appear at the termination hearing and does not challenge the
termination of his parental rights.
has an extensive criminal history dating back to 1987, and an
extensive child abuse/neglect history dating back to 2002,
involving multiple children and states, including Missouri.
Mother's parental rights have been terminated to five of
her six children.
October 16, 2018, Mother's parental rights to Child were
terminated. She challenges the termination on the grounds
there was not clear, cogent and convincing evidence to
terminate her parental rights under Section 211.447, and
because the Children's Division failed to make reasonable
efforts to reunify parent and child.
forth a brief chronological history of the events which
brought Child into the custody of the trial court as well as
the long procedural history below.
October 31, 2014, Child came under the jurisdiction of the
juvenile division of the trial court when Mother was arrested
and charged with assault of Child's grandmother in Case
No. 14SF-JU00181. The trial court found that Mother had
abused Child, and that Mother was medically abusing Child by
giving her medications that she had not been prescribed.
Finally, the trial court found that Child was a victim in
Child abuse and neglect cases in California and Texas, and
that there was an active Child protective services case open
against Mother in Texas for medical neglect. On December 29,
2014, the trial court entered its order of adjudication in
case 14SF-JU00181 placing Child in the temporary legal and
physical custody of the Children's Division. On January
12, 2015, the court terminated jurisdiction over Child.
29, 2015, following an allegation that Mother had physical
custody of Child contrary to a court order of custody
granting sole legal and physical custody to Child's
father where Mother was afforded no visitation, the juvenile
office filed its Petition for Protective Custody.
30, 2015, a second juvenile case was opened, Case No.
4, 2015, the court entered an order and finding of
jurisdiction, and at the same time entered a "Social
Service Plan" ("Plan") for Mother.
27, 2015, the trial court once again took jurisdiction over
Child, finding inter alia, that Mother had provided
Child with non-prescribed medications, that Mother had a
"very extensive Child Abuse/Neglect history involving
the states of Arizona, Texas, Tennessee, California, and
Missouri, " and that Mother had her parental rights over
other children terminated. The court took judicial notice of
the files in both abuse and neglect cases.
January 12, 2018, the juvenile office filed its petition for
Termination of Parental Rights, seeking to terminate the
parental rights of both Mother and Father to Child.
the underlying case, it was also discovered that Mother was
involved in a murder investigation in Illinois. Mother
informed her case worker of this in December 2015. In June
2016, Mother was arrested and incarcerated in Madison County,
Illinois awaiting trial on the charge of murder in the first
degree. She remained incarcerated from June 2016 until the
August 30, 2018, the trial court held a hearing regarding
Mother's parental rights. On October 16, 2018, the court
entered its Judgment terminating Mother's parental rights
finding that Mother had abused or neglected the Child, under
Section 211.447.5(2). The trial court also found grounds to
terminate Mother's parental rights under Section
211.447.5(3) and Section 211.447.5(6). Finally, the trial
court found that termination was in Child's best
interests, pursuant to Section 211.447.6. This appeal
follows. Additional facts will be included below as we
address Mother's six points on appeal.
of parental rights is permitted when a statutory ground for
termination is supported by clear, cogent, and convincing
evidence, and termination is determined to be in the best
interests of the child by a preponderance of the evidence.
In re K.A.W., 133 S.W.3d 1, 12 (Mo. banc 2004).
"[C]lear, cogent, and convincing evidence instantly
tilts the scales in favor of termination when weighed against
the evidence in opposition and the finder of fact is left
with the abiding conviction that the evidence is true."
K.A.W., 133 S.W.3d at 12. In our review, we
"defer to the circuit court's ability to judge the
credibility of witnesses and will affirm the judgment unless
there is no substantial evidence to support it, it is
contrary to the evidence, or it erroneously declares or
applies the law." Id. at 11. Any conflicting
evidence will be viewed in the light most favorable to the
judgment of the circuit court. Id. at 12.
raises six points on appeal. For ease of discussion, we
address related points together.