BURLINGTON, Vt. -
Police say 2-year-old Dezirae Sheldon was murdered last week by her stepfather, Dennis Duby. She died from blunt force trauma to the head. Duby pleaded not guilty this afternoon to second-degree murder.
This was not the first case of abuse in Dezirae's short life. In July 2013, her mother, Sandra Eastman, pleaded guilty to child cruelty for failing to get Dezirae prompt medical care for a broken leg.* She was in state custody after that assault, but was returned to her mother and stepfather -- and now she is dead.
David Yacovone is the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Children and Families. He is bound by confidentiality and can not speak about specific cases, including Dezirae's, but he can talk to us about the foster care system and claims of child abuse.
*Editor's note: Authorities brought to our attention on June 26, 2014, that WCAX News previously reported Sandra Eastman was convicted of breaking Dezirae Sheldon's leg. That was incorrect. Eastman was convicted of child cruelty by medical neglect. We apologize for the error.