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Winooski mom pleads not guilty to murdering son - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Winooski mom pleads not guilty to murdering son

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Nytosha Laforce Nytosha Laforce
Peighton Geraw Peighton Geraw
BURLINGTON, Vt. -

Nytosha Laforce plead not guilty to second degree murder for the death or her 15-month-old son, Peighton Geraw and court documents reveal that the child’s short life was full of tragic circumstances.

Geraw was pronounced dead on the afternoon of April 4, 2014.

And police say his mother, Nytosha Laforce, killed him.

"Certainly this is a case that is disturbing to anybody and I think anybody has a hard time understanding how you can do this to a baby," said TJ Donovan, Chittenden County State's Attorney.

Police say it was the witness account from Laforce's boyfriend, 25-year-old Tyler Chicoine that led them to their conclusion that Laforce killed her own child.

According to police documents, Chicoine saw Laforce banging Peighton's head against the floor just hours before he died.

The medical examiner concluded that what Chicoine saw and demonstrated for police were consistent with the injuries that caused Peighton's death. Investigators also say Chicoine passed a polygraph while LaForce did not.

"The investigation was clear in that we feel the statement that Tyler Chicoine provided was true and accurate and detailed the accounts of what happened to Peighton Geraw," said Sgt. Mike Warren of the Chittenden Unit for Special Investigations.

The whole case has promoted an investigation into the Department for Children and Families policies after new details surrounding Peighton's death came to light.

Court papers reveal he was born opiate addicted. DCF had taken custody of him at least once after Laforce violated parole and fled the state. And the fatal injuries occurred just hours before a DCF worker arrived at the home.

Documents also show that Laforce told the DCF worker during the visit that Peighton was sleeping and she did not want to wake him up.

Therefore, the DCF worker never held the child and only observed bruises on the child’s neck. Documents say the worker admitted not knowing whether the child was actually alive at the time of his visit.

Reporter Shelby Cashman: And it's unclear whether or not Peighton was still alive when the DCF worker was there?

Warren: That is unclear.

But DCF says workers cannot legally touch a child without permission. They also say workers have no authority to remove a child from a home without a police investigation first.

DCF was called to check up on Laforce and Peighton when two days prior, Fletcher Allen Health Care reported noticing the bruises on the childs neck that Laforce and Chicoine could not explain.

Laforce brought her son in for flu-like symptoms. Court documents also revealed that the child had a healing leg fracture at the time of his death that was not caught by the hospital. Fletcher Allen says that they cannot speak to this case specifically, but that the proper protocol was followed when doctors called DCF after noticing bruises.

Back in May of last year, Laforce violated parole of a previous felony and fled the state with Peighton. She was then arrested and the child was put into DCF custody. Laforce then underwent parenting classes and Peighton was given back to her in the Fall of last year. DCF then closed the case in January. Donovan says that after that case was closed, DCF did not continue to monitor the mother and child.

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