PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A Philadelphia jury has now heard opening statements in the case against three people, the father and two social service agency workers, charged in connection with the neglect and starvation death of Danieal Kelly, 14, who weighed just 42 lbs. when she died. All three defendants have pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutor Jennifer Selber has told the jury Daniel Kelly was a cruel, abusive neglectful father. He did not want to care for his profoundly disabled daughter, did not want to see her again and ultimately abandoned her to her unfit mother, who watched Danieal die and later pleaded guilty to murder and is now serving a 20-40  year sentence.

But defense attorney Earl Kauffman called the prosecution’s allegations nonsense.

According to Kauffman, Daniel Kelly, who will take the witness stand on his own behalf, was put out of the house. He tried to see Danieal, but the mother wouldn’t allow it. She secreted Danieal away from others.

Dana Poindexter, a former DHS intake worker, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child, recklessly endangering another person and perjury. Selber says Poindexter took the initial reports. He was supposed to make the initial assessment of the need for services, but Selber has told the jury that the evidence will show Poindexter ignored repeated reports of abuse and neglect of Danieal Kelly. And because of his position, his inaction actually kept her from getting help.

But defense attorney Craig Hosay says Poindexter referred the case to a supervisor, although the defense conceded Poindexter may not have done all the required paperwork. According to Hosay, Poindexter had nothing to do with the case for the 11 months before Danieal died, and there’s no evidence he knew she was in danger.

Mickal Kamuvaka, 62, ran the private social service agency that was supposed to be providing care for Danieal Kelly. Selber has told the jury that the agency was a fraud from top to bottom. In fact, Kamuvaka has already been convicted of that fraud and is serving a 17-year prison sentence. In this case, she is charged with involuntary manslaughter, because of her alleged gross negligence and extreme recklessness.

But defense attorney Josh Scarpello has told the jury that Danieal’s mother (who pleaded guilty to murder and is in prison) is to blame. She pushed away those who could have helped. She did everything she could to hide her sins.

Reported by Tony Hanson, KYW Newsradio 1060

Top Content On CBSPhilly

Watch & Listen LIVE