Blackened, dead flesh on toddler Kyra Wine’s hand and feet and black patches of scalp were among the injuries police saw during a welfare check at the child’s home near St. Maries last summer.
Authorities still don’t know the cause of those injuries to the 3-year-old, which required amputation of her feet and a finger and months of recuperating at Sacred Heart Medical Center.
They do know that Charles W. Smith, one of two people charged in the case, is going to prison for 10 years.
Wine’s mother and Smith’s girlfriend, Christina L. Haynes, is awaiting arraignment.
Despite a call for leniency by the defense, and a recommendation for an 8-year fixed prison sentence by the prosecutor, 1st District Judge Fred Gibler on Friday sentenced Smith to the maximum allowed in Idaho for felony injury to child.
Calling the 10-year ceiling for the felony “unfortunate,” Gibler said he was bound to the law.
“It could be seen as lenient,” he said, adding, “I think the possibility of parole would be improper in this case.”
Kyra Wine was 3 last June when authorities, acting on a tip from a neighbor, checked on her at the family’s rural Hells Gulch residence north of St. Maries. She and her sister, 5-year-old Amanda, lived there in a farmhouse on a wooded hill.
Her mother, 27-year-old Haynes, worked at a horse ranch in Harrison, Idaho. Haynes’ newfound boyfriend, 29-year-old Smith, stayed at home periodically taking care of the two little girls.
Neighbors who often babysat the girls said they found them bubbly and enjoyable even though they weren’t always clean or combed, but that they’d seen a change in the sisters’ demeanor after Smith moved in.
Neighbor Valerie Goin was one of two witnesses to testify at Friday’s sentencing.
“They never wanted to go home,” said Goin, who lives at the bottom of the hill from Kyra’s house. “Kyra would tell me that Charlie was mean to her.”
The girls’ paternal grandmother, Deanna Wine, an EMT and director of St. Maries Ambulance, also noticed the change. When she brought the girls back to their mother after a weekend of visitation the sisters became pensive.
“Amanda became real quiet during the trip,” Wine told the court. “The closer to the residence we would get, the quieter she got.”
That should have tipped her off, she said.
“I didn’t catch that,” she said. “I should have caught that.”
There were other clues.
Once, around Memorial Day, the last time Wine was allowed near the girls, she drove Kyra home to her mother. The girl began screaming, said Wine, and Haynes “didn’t really comfort her.”
Defense attorney Will Butler, a Benewah County public defender, said Smith, who moved to Idaho from Illinois in November 2007 at the behest of his girlfriend, was a caring person. His prior criminal record was limited to a schoolhouse scrap, a theft and a driving violation.
“He’s described as a good babysitter, a good person,” said Butler.
Smith was no stranger to abuse, having grown up in a home where his mother’s boyfriends beat him, Butler said.
Since his June 17 arrest, Smith didn’t deny that he should have sought medical attention for the toddler, Butler said.
But he said Smith thought the child’s condition “wasn’t serious.”
He said that Smith and Haynes took Kyra to the hospital after county deputies found the child almost comatose in a bedroom, her body covered in scabs.
She had dead flesh on her extremities and was dehydrated and malnourished.
Medical specialists still aren’t sure what caused the dead flesh that resulted in the amputation of Kyra’s feet and a finger, or why one of her kidneys shut down. They aren’t certain of the cause of the large spot of dead flesh on her head that is slowly healing but will never grow hair.
A blood-clotting defect probably caused the kidney failure, said Doug Payne, Benewah County prosecutor.
Aggravated by dehydration, the defect also could have caused blood to be blocked from the child’s extremities. Malnutrition, or a protein imbalance, could also have been a cause. Specialists didn’t rule out trauma, Payne said.
“With all the possible explanations, they really couldn’t say what caused this tissue to die,” he said.
Victims in this case are compounded, said Wine, the girl’s grandmother.
“Amanda is as much a victim as Kyra is,” she said. “She got to listen.”
Both children are getting better through counseling and therapy. Kyra has been fitted with prosthetics.
“I want the judge to understand what she went through,” said Wine. “What she is going through, what she is going to go through the rest of her life.
“It’s not over…She will never be Kyra as before.”