The mother of a five-year-old girl with a rare genetic disorder who has never weighted more than 18lbs, has been handed just 20 years probation for removing her daughter’s feeding tube.
Porscha Mickens, 29, and her husband Jerrail were arrested in 2020 after their daughter, Kylie Mickens, was brought unresponsive to a hospital outside of Atlanta, Georgia, weighing just eight pounds. She died the next day, Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.
The couple were both charged with felony murder and first-degree cruelty to children. Porscha took an open-ended plea but Jerrail, Kylie’s father, died in November last year in a motorcycle accident.
Last week, Porscha was sentenced to 20 years probation, despite the ‘egregious’ child neglect after the court heard she was an attentive mother, who had sought advice from multiple doctors and received very little support from the hospital.
She had also told the court she had removed her daughter’s feeding tube, which the little girl relied on to survive, on the advice of a holistic doctor.
Kylie suffered from the genetic disorder Chromosome 1p36 deletion syndrome which made it difficult to eat and drink and left her severely underdeveloped. The most Kylie ever weighed was 18 pounds, but when she died at five years old she was less than eight pounds – about the weight of a newborn baby.
Porscha Mickens, 29, was sentenced to 20 years probation for removing her daughter’s feeding tube after the little girl died weighing just eight pounds
Kylie Mickens suffered from a rare genetic disorder that made eating and drinking difficult, and prevented growth. Her weight fluctuated constantly throughout her life
In 2018 Kylie had a feeding tube inserted through her nose and into her stomach, but when she began to be able to eat processed food her mother removed the tube on the recommendation of a holistic doctor.
An autopsy conducted after her death determined that Kylie had died from malnutrition and dehydration as a result of medical neglect, a finding prosecutors used to argue that the Mickens’ behavior was directly responsible for Kylie’s death.
‘This child starved to death over months and months,’ Hall County Assistant District Attorney Anna Fowler said in court, ‘She was not getting enough food. She was getting no medical care that she needed. And that is why she died, when she did, how she did.’
District Attorney Lee Darragh said Kylie’s death was ‘one of the most egregious cases of child neglect,’ he had seen.
Kylie Mickens in the arms of her father, Jerrail Mickens. Jerrail died in a motorcycle accident in November of 2021
But Mickens defense pointed out that Kylie’s weight constantly fluctuated, that the Mickens had tirelessly sought treatment for their daughter throughout her life, and that when Kylie didn’t gain weight in the care of doctors the family was told to visit specialists.
‘She would go to the specialists that she was sent to. She went to 14 of them before she put a stop to most of that,’ defense attorney Corinne Mull told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, ‘Gastroenterologists, neurologists, just a variety of doctors, geneticists. She went to all of them.’
The defense also called at least seven witnesses who testified that Porscha was an attentive mother to her ailing child, and that she slept in the same room as her daughter so she could be on hand in case Kylie suffered seizures in the night.
‘If she had given up on the child, why would you have the child staying in your bedroom and checking her for seizures? It just doesn’t make sense,’ Mull said.
Kylie spent her life in and out of hospitals, and never weighed more than 18 pounds. When she was born doctors told the Mickens that she would not live longer than two years
The judge in the case felt that if Kylie could not maintain a healthy weight even in the care of medical professionals, her parents could not be held fully responsible for her malnutrition
Jerrail Micken was arrested after his five-year-old daughter died weighing just eight pounds in 2020
Defense also argued that aside from the tube’s removal being recommended by the holistic doctor, Porscha also wanted her daughter to be able to enjoy tasting food.
‘She was interested in giving [Kylie] something to taste and something she would enjoy as opposed to just dropping it in her stomach,’ Mull said.
Mull also pointed out that when Kylie was born the Mickens were told she wouldn’t live longer than two years. Asked of they wanted to put her up for adoption, Mull said that the Mickens never considered the option.
A doctor who treated Kylie testified that she would have survived longer if she had remained hospitalized, but Mull showed that the doctor had previously written a report saying that Kylie only ‘may possibly have gotten better.’
The Hall County DA asked that Porscha serve a 30 year sentence, with 25 years of it behind bars.
Porscha submitted a plea for second degree murder and child cruelty charges, and was given 20 years of probation by Superior Court Judge C. Andrew Fuller
‘It should go without saying that the court’s sentence does not lessen the value of Kylie’s life,’ Fuller said in court after deciding that prison time was not necessary.
‘He pointed out that the hospital couldn’t keep her from losing weight,’ Mull said, ‘So how do we blame Porscha for that?’
Chromosome 1p36 deletion syndrome: What is it?
The genetic disorder is caused when a segment of DNA fails to replicate during chromosomal development, a mutation called genetic deletion
Effects of the condition vary depending on where in the chromosome the deletion has occurred but can consist of:
-Severe speech disability
-Stunted growth caused by weak muscle tone and difficulty consuming food and liquids
-Malformed bodily features and distinct facial features
-Heading and vision impairment
The condition appears in about one in every five to ten-thousand birth, and there is no cure for the syndrome
The lifespan of sufferers varies depending on the severity of the condition, with some individuals dying in infancy and others living into adulthood