Foster parents plead 'not guilty' - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Foster parents plead 'not guilty'

Couple accused of injuring two children; one dies of injuries

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Posted: Tuesday, December 6, 2011 12:00 am

COEUR d'ALENE - The Post Falls foster parents indicted for allegedly injuring a 2-year-old girl in their care - who later died of head injuries - were arraigned Monday. They remained silent during the hearing and a judge entered not guilty pleas on their behalf.

Amber M. Clark, 28, and her husband, Jeremy M. Clark, 36, were indicted last month by a Kootenai County grand jury on two counts of felony injury to a child, conspiracy to conceal evidence of the abuse, and perjury. They were arrested and jailed, but then released on $25,000 bond.

Two-year-old Karina J. Moore died in January 2009, days after the Clarks told police Karina fell down stairs in their home. The Spokane County Medical Examiner's Office ruled the case a homicide, citing "blunt force head injuries."

First District Judge Fred Gibler on Monday didn't initially set a trial date.

Indictment documents allege abuse by the Clarks wasn't limited to Karina.

The couple allegedly inflicted ice baths on a boy in their care, who was 4 or 5 years old at the time, documents said. The couple also inflicted injuries to his body and head, documents said. That alleged abuse occurred between December 2007 and January 2008.

Defense lawyers for the Clarks said during the hearing that at least two weeks would be needed for trial.

Defense lawyer Chris Schwartz, representing Amber Clark, said there is a large volume of discovery material that needs to be reviewed and analyzed, along with grand jury transcripts, and expert witnesses would need to be acquired.

"This is going to need to be set out quite some time" for trial, Schwartz said. Defense lawyer Sean Walsh represents Jeremy Clark.

Police began investigating after Karina was injured. She was placed in the Clarks' home by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

She was taken from her mother, now 25-year-old Samantha Richardson of Coeur d'Alene, in mid-November 2008 because Richardson had allegedly harmed her son, Shawn, who is 8 years old now. Richardson said the alleged mistreatment turned out, upon investigation, to be an accident.

Richardson said the three children she had at the time - Karina, Shawn and Aaliyah - were placed with the Clarks for two months between mid-November 2008 and mid-January 2009.

In Richardson's three supervised visits during that span, she said she noticed Karina had been physically injured and had developed behavior problems such as slurred speech. Richardson complained to state child protection authorities after her second and third visits. The Clarks said the injuries - knots on Karina's head, black eyes, scratches on her face - were the result of accidents at their home.

Months after Karina's death, Richardson regained custody of her children. Richardson has had her fourth child, who is now 8 months old. Richardson married in July 2009.

Karina's father lives in South Carolina.

Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh has declined to comment on the case.

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