EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSMother Charged In Child's Death Has Drug History; Boy Suffered From Terminal Illness
from Eyewitness News Online
Reported by: Leslie Rubin
Videographer: Troy Morgan
Web Producer: Leslie Rubin
Reported: Jul. 12, 2013 12:19 PM EDT
Updated: Jul. 15, 2013 4:31 AM EDT
Sutton , Braxton County , West Virginia
The mother of a Braxton County boy charged in connection with his death has a criminal history.
Valarie Brown, 38, was taken to jail and charged with child neglect causing death.
On Wednesday, her son Levi Burroughs, 8, was found dead, wrapped in a blanket and partially decomposing, according to troopers.
State Police said Burroughs suffered from a terminal illness called Hurler Syndrome. Troopers say Brown denied her son proper medical care in the final days of his life.
"The child was denied care, denied care! Ms. Brown did not allow Hospice to come in and provide the proper care and treatment that child needed," West Virginia State Police 1st. Sgt. Michael Baylous said.
According to information about Hurler Syndrome, patients are not expected to live past the age of 10.
It is a degenerative disease that affects the body's organs. Children often need special education and assistance to perform ordinary daily functions, and are often wheelchair bound.
Life expectancy can be extended with early treatment such as a bone marrow transplant. Patients often have mental disabilities, spinal abnormalities, and hearing loss.
Hospice had been called in to check on his well-being. However, according to state police, on more than one occasion, they were turned away when they came to her Salt Lick Road home. They returned with state police on Wednesday. Brown initially told them the boy was not in the home, and only let them in after they insisted the check on him. That's when she apparently told them to, "please not hurt Levi."
Troopers are unsure how long he'd been dead, or what caused his death, but they believe Brown's negligence played a part.
"Her selfish desires got in the way and kept a child from receiving the proper medical attention that he needed," Baylous said.
In 2005, Brown was charged with operating a meth lab, conspiracy, and exposing children to meth. Prosecutors later dropped the meth related charges in exchange for a guilty plea to conspiracy. She was sentenced to home confinement and probation.
While serving her sentence, she filed several motions with the court asking for permission to leave the state to take Levi to Cincinnati Children's Hospital for surgery and enzyme therapy treatments.
She tested positive for morphine and had her probation revoked at one point, but was still released early from home confinement because it was "causing a hardship on her and her child," according to court documents.
"We believe there is a connection between lifestyle and the environment that child was exposed to," Baylous said.
Pending results of an autopsy, Brown's charges could change, but for now, she's awaiting her day in court from behind bars.
Brown's grandmother, who is currently caring for her 6-year-old son, said the family had no comment when Eyewitness News reached out to them.
Brown also denied a request for comment from jail.
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