Miami-Dade County

Mom held in death of 1-year-old once sent his sister to daycare with skull fracture

Cristina Hurt, accused of murdering her baby by failing to get him medical attention for a severe burning, in Miami-Dade criminal court on Monday.
Cristina Hurt, accused of murdering her baby by failing to get him medical attention for a severe burning, in Miami-Dade criminal court on Monday. Miami Herald

Christina Marie Hurt’s 3-year-old daughter had a “gash” on her head and was oozing blood when Hurt left her at a daycare center. Hurt covered the wound with a bow.

The youngster said her mom shoved her off a bed. Hurt at first said she couldn’t remember how it happened.

But hidden beneath the bow and the cut was a far more severe injury, police said: The little girl, who is not identified in a report, had suffered a cracked skull.

On July 13, 2014, Florida City police charged Hurt with child neglect for failing to seek medical attention for the child. It appears to be the beginning of Hurt’s four-year odyssey through Florida’s child welfare system, which is ending much as it began, with Hurt facing charges that she failed to take a critically hurt child to the hospital.

Ethan Coley

Last month, Hurt was charged with aggravated manslaughter after her 1-year-old son, Ethan Coley, died from an untreated scalding injury. Police say Ethan was severely burned from his chest down — his mother claims an older sibling filled a bathtub with the blistering hot water — and Hurt refused to hospitalize him for fear of losing her children, again.

Ethan was the youngest of Hurt’s six children. The older five had been removed from her care previously, but then returned.

Hurt’s past — and an upgrade to charges of second-degree murder and aggravated child abuse — became causes for an attempt by prosecutors to return Hurt to jail while she awaits trial. At a hearing Monday morning, prosecutor Eileen Keeley told a judge that Hurt was “an extremely elevated risk for flight.”

Hurt’s defense attorney, Assistant Public Defender Damaris Del Valle, denied the claim, insisting that her client would not disappear before trial.

“She does not have the means to leave,” Del Valle said. “I have no doubt she’ll come back.”

Prosecutors say they also are concerned that if Hurt, 32, remains free on bail, she may try to interfere with the children.

Dixie Rogers recalls the moments when Christina Hurt appeared at her home with 1-year-old Ethan Coley in critical condition on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2017.

“There is no way to monitor whether or not she can get on the phone, message them on Facebook or contact them on social media,” Keeley said.

The hearing will continue Monday afternoon.

Hurt’s history with state child welfare administrators appears to date back to at least 2013 — though details remain sketchy. The Miami Herald has asked the Department of Children & Families to release records of the family’s child protection history, but the agency has declined to provide any records relating to Hurt’s older children, who had been removed from her care, citing the confidentiality of agency records.

The Herald also is seeking to review the audio of perhaps a dozen court hearings in Miami-Dade’s “dependency” court, where judges oversee the protection of abused and neglected children. Though such audio had been released to the Herald routinely for close to 20 years, Miami-Dade Circuit Court administrators refused to release the tapes in Hurt’s case, saying the court system had provided them over the years in error.

A lawsuit filed by the Herald over the audio remains pending, though Circuit Judge Jason Dimitris, who presided over the court case involving Hurt’s children only briefly, ordered the release of the recording of a recent hearing. The judge issued a stay of the order after a lawyer for the surviving siblings said he would appeal.

According to prosecutors, state child welfare authorities first removed Hurt’s children in 2013 when their paternal grandfather alleged that the kids were “hurting themselves in a series of accidents and fights after being repeatedly left unsupervised and alone.”

One child had a black eye, another a cut on her mouth. The children were placed in the custody of their father, Taboris Coley, and his parents, according to a motion for pretrial detention filed in Miami-Dade criminal court.

Child Burned Florida
This Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, booking photo made available by the Miami-Dade, Fla., Department of Corrections, shows Christina Hurt. Hurt initially faced an aggravated manslaughter charge after she failed to get help for her 1-year-old child who was severely burned while taking a bath and later died. Monday the charge was upgraded to second-degree murder. Associated Press

Prosecutors allege that the father “secretly conspired” with Hurt so she could “continue to come visit and care for the children.” When the family’s child welfare judge later learned about the violations of the stay-away order, the children were placed in a group home.

Then, in 2014, Hurt was arrested for child neglect after she dropped off her then-3-year-old daughter at a Florida City daycare with a large cut on her head, police reports say.

The girl complained about the injury, and daycare workers called police.

Doctors at Homestead Hospital diagnosed the girl with a fractured skull. The girl told police that Hurt had pushed her off a bed. Hurt denied it.

It’s not clear why Hurt never sought medical care for her daughter’s head injury in July 2014.

Hurt initially denied knowing about the injury when police called her to the daycare, but she later said that she had found her daughter screaming in the bedroom of their home.

Hurt told police that she cleaned up her daughter and then drove her to school, and admitted that she should have taken the girl to the hospital instead.

Prosecutors charged her under the theory that Hurt “was criminally negligent by failing to get medical care” for the girl. Ultimately, Hurt agreed to probation.

There have also been “multiple suspicious injuries” to the children over the years that Hurt explained as being caused by “the family dog,” prosecutors said.