Judge Says He Wasn't Told of the 'Danger' That Led to the Murder of 6 Kids

police tapeThe world was shocked by the recent murder of a Houston family with six children by David Conley (father of five of the children), who said his ex and her husband (also murdered) were raising them to be 'monsters' -- but none so much as the judge who kept those kids out of foster care.

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Earlier this week, David Conley was charged with numerous counts of capital murder after allegedly slipping through an unlocked window at the home of 40-year-old Valerie Jackson and fatally shooting Jackson and her children, 13-year-old Nathaniel, 11-year-old Honesty, 10-year-old Dwayne, 9-year-old Caleb, 7-year-old Trinity, and 6-year-old Jonah, as well as her common-law husband, Dwayne Jackson. According to authorities, Nathaniel was Conley's son from his relationship with Valerie Jackson, while the Jacksons were the parents of the other five children.

It's an unthinkable tragedy, but could it have been prevented? Child Protective Services filed a lawsuit two years ago to keep all six kids in foster care; in the lawsuit, Conley's history of domestic violence against Valerie Jackson was noted, as was the "mother's lack of control and parenting skills," which CPS claimed placed "the children in immediate danger." Instead, Juvenile Court Judge Glenn Devlin dismissed the effort, and the children were returned home a month later, after Jackson and Conley agreed to counseling. Now Devlin is defending his decision, explaining Wednesday that he was never told the kids were in any "immediate physical danger."

"While the tragic events that occurred some 18 months after the CPS case is horrific, neither CPS nor any attorney or the Court could have prevented it based upon the case presented in court," said Devlin. He also said that he couldn't remove the kids from their home based on their parents' criminal histories, and that CPS never said there was "a current or immediate threat of violence from anyone."

More from The Stir: Family of 10-Year-Old Murder Suspect Doesn't Want Him Back 

Still, even if Devlin believes that he couldn't have done anything differently, I can't begin to imagine the unbelievable guilt he must be living with right now -- and possibly for the rest of his life. It sounds to me like this case was mishandled on multiple levels from the start, but then, with a family situation so violent and complicated, I'm sure there were never any clear answers as to what to do. And it's possible Conley would have done what he did no matter what, as he the comments he made to the press regarding his actions sound pretty far from sane:

"They were growing up to be monsters, they were disrespectful, rude in school," he told KPRC-TV of the children. "I'm not saying they're dead because of that. I'm not even saying I killed them. God says in the Bible do not disrespect your mother and father or your days will be short, but I'm not saying that's what happened."

Sick. The words of a sick man, to be sure. It's just such a shame that nobody saw how sick he truly was before it was too late.

 

Image via Tony Webster/Flickr

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