ROTTERDAM — A Rotterdam foster parent has been indicted on a murder charge in connection with the December death of a 4-year-old boy placed in his care, the Schenectady County District Attorney’s Offices said Friday.
He is also accused of assaulting the boy’s 5-year-old brother, also placed in his care, prosecutors said.
Dequan Greene, 27, of Broadway, appeared in Schenectady County Court Friday morning on the indictment charging him with second-degree murder and other charges in connection with the death of the boy prosecutors identified as Charlie. County officials later identified the boy as Charles Garay.
Greene is accused of causing the boy’s death and assaulting his brother Dec. 20 at the 2734 Broadway residence he shared with his wife, Latrisha Greene.
Latrisha Greene does not face charges in Charlie’s death, however, she has been charged with evidence tampering related to the investigation, prosecutors said.
Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney said in a press release his office will prosecute the cases, but he also stated that “questions about how this could have happened are legitimate areas of inquiry for my office to explore.”
Paramedics arrived at the home after a 911 call for reports of the boy named Charlie in respiratory distress, prosecutors said. Paramedics arrived to find him not breathing. They attempted to revive him, but could not.
Rotterdam police and Schenectady County prosecutors then began to investigate through a grand jury, leading to Friday’s indictment against Dequan Greene, officials said.
The boys had been placed in their care in September by Child Protective Service of the Albany County Department of Social Services, after an order from Albany County Family Court removed them from the care of their biological parents, Schenectady County prosecutors said.
The couple had been certified as foster parents by the Schenectady County Department of Social Services, but previously had only fostered one child for one day, prosecutors said. The couple also have three children of their own, all girls ages infant to 5 years.
Dequan Greene is accused of killing Charlie Dec. 20. He is accused of assaulting Charlie’s brother between the dates of Dec. 16 and Dec. 20. But Greene also faces misdemeanor child endangerment allegations for the length of the brother’s placement with the Greenes, prosecutors said.
Dequan Greene originally told first responders that Charlie had fallen out of a child’s chair, began to slur his speech and then passed out, prosecutors said. He told others that the child choked.
Rather than calling 911, however, he called his wife, who was out shopping, prosecutors said. When she returned home, she called 911.
The medical investigation discovered much more extensive injuries, prosecutors said.
The investigation revealed Charlie died due to “extensive internal injury to his liver and intestines caused by blunt force trauma,” a release reads.
Charlie’s older brother was removed from the home at the time of the response and taken to Albany Medical Center for his own injuries, including bruises, abrasions and a torn frenulum, prosecutors said.
In all, Dequan Greene faces two counts of second-degree murder, under different definitions, along with first-degree manslaughter in Charlie’s death. He also faces one count of second-degree assault for Charlie’s older brother’s injuries, and misdemeanor child endangerment counts.
He was arraigned, pleaded not guilty and was ordered held. He is represented by attorney James Tyner. Tyner could not be immediately reached for comment.
The evidence tampering case against Latrisha Greene, filed by Rotterdam police, relates to allegations that she texted her husband from Ellis Hospital shortly after speaking with police there and requested Dequan Greene clean the house. She also faces a misdemeanor child endangerment count related to Charlie, prosecutors said.
“In a well-intentioned effort to keep these two little boys safe, they were placed in a foster home in which they were subjected to cruelty, violence, and in the case of Charlie, death at age four,” Carney said in his release. “Most cases present difficulties and stresses; this one is heart breaking. Our primary focus is to prosecute the person now charged with killing Charlie, but secondarily questions about how this could have happened are legitimate areas of inquiry for my office to explore.”
“We do believe that Charlie’s brother is now in an environment where he is safe, loved and cared for and for that we are grateful,” Carney added.
Schenectady County issued its own statement Friday afternoon noting that the children remained in the care of the Albany County Department of Social Services, even though they were physically placed in Schenectady County.
Schenectady County also confirmed it is now investigating reports of child abuse against Dequan Greene and Latrisha Green stemming from the child’s death, an investigation it began after Charlie’s death.
“Dequan Greene and Latrisha Greene were certified foster parents in accordance with the laws of the State of New York and the policies and procedures of the Schenectady County Department of Social Services,” the Schenectady County statement reads.
The two passed background checks, including the state central registry, criminal background, Justice Center’s Clearinghouse and each provided four references, Schenectady County said.
“While New York State Law requires the certifying agency of a foster home to visit the home once per year, Schenectady County Department of Social Services visits foster homes quarterly,” the Schenectady County statement read. “The Greenes satisfied every requirement for foster care certification.”
“Schenectady County Department of Social Services will continue to fully cooperate with law enforcement’s investigation and prosecution,” the Schenectady County statement concluded.
Asked about the case Friday, Albany County spokeswoman Mary Rozak indicated Albany County placed the children in Schenectady County because Albany County had no available foster parents who could take the siblings together. Schenectady County had certified foster parents available.
“Certainly this is a tragic situation and we always rely on those foster parents, those who are certified, to take the best care of the children that need them,” Rozak said.
Albany County DSS generally conducts monthly checks on foster care placements, Rozak said. Those checks have continued under COVID, however, they have been generally held virtually through Facetime. Specific information on any checks completed with the Greenes was not available.
Albany County will cooperate with the investigation in any way needed, Rozak said.
Carney and Rotterdam Police Chief William Manikas made the joint decision to investigate the matter through the grand jury. Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney and Chief Homicide Prosecutor Christina Tremante spearheaded the investigation, assisted by Special Victims Bureau Chief Assistant District Attorney John Carson and Senior District Attorney Investigator Mary McGovern.
Det. Joseph D’Aurizio headed up the police efforts, assisted by other members of the Rotterdam department.