EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSBraxton Mother Accused In Son's Death Faces Unrelated Charge; Friend Comes To Her Defense
from Eyewitness News Online
Reported by: Leslie Rubin
Web Producer: Jeff Morris
Reported: Jul. 17, 2013 11:30 AM EDT
Updated: Jul. 17, 2013 11:01 PM EDT
Sutton , Braxton County , West Virginia
New insight is being offered into a case that has sparked outrage in Braxton County. A mother is accused of denying medical care to her terminally ill son, allowing him to die and then living with his corpse in her home for days.
Valarie Brown, 38, of Sutton has been in jail since last week after a trooper and a Hospice worker found her son dead inside her home.
The body of Levi Burroughs, 8, was wrapped in a blanket, and partially decomposed, according to a criminal complaint.
Brown was back in court on Wednesday and now faces a new, unrelated charge. Those closest to her are now speaking out in her defense, possibly shedding new light on the case.
Eyewitness News uncovered court documents from 2006 that suggested she was, at that time, trying to get her son medical treatment for a terminal illness known as "Hurler Syndrome." Brown had asked for permission to leave the state, while on home confinement, to take Levi to Cincinnati Children's Hospital for surgery and treatment.
Amber Bender, a close friend of Brown's, said she was not the monster she's being portrayed as, and despite a checkered past that includes meth-related charges, said she was a devoted mother.
"She's a mother who lost her child and she had nobody there to help her cope," Bender said. She said she is still in shock over Brown's arrest.
"She's the type of person if you're having a bad day, will kind of renew your faith in people," says Bender.
Last week, state police said they went to Brown's Salt Lick Road home with a Hospice worker because Brown had refused to let the worker in to care for her terminally ill son. Once inside, they found his body wrapped in a blanket, and decomposing on a bed.
"People say she was trying to hide him. It was the fact that the people who had been coming the last three days to tell her he was dying had left her to deal with that on her own. I wouldn't want those people to take my son either," Bender said.
On Wednesday, Brown waived her preliminary hearing on the child neglect causing death charge. Her bond was cut in half, from $100,000 cash-only to $50,000 cash or surety, but it has to be posted by a certified bail bondsman.
Also on Wednesday, she was charged with obtaining goods under false pretenses after Braxton County deputies said she wrote a rent check to her landlord from a closed account.
Brown's criminal history includes a conspiracy conviction stemming from a case where troopers said they found meth being made around Levi back in 2006. Despite her flaws, Bender said Brown had cleaned up her life and devoted it to her three sons. Besides Levi, she had a teenage son, and a 6 year-old.
"That's why she did was she did. It wasn't being sick or a monster or trying to hide him because she denied him care. It was the fact that her son had died and she didn't know how to deal with it," Bender said.
Troopers said the autopsy for Burroughs has not been completed.
A Braxton mother charged in connection with the death of her son now faces unrelated charges.
Valarie Brown, 38, of Sutton has been charged with obtaining goods under false pretenses. She is accused of writing a rent check from a closed account. Her landlord came forward after the news about the death of Brown’s son.
Brown is charged with child neglect causing death. On July 10, her son Levi Burroughs, 8, was found dead, wrapped in a blanket and partially decomposing, troopers said.
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.
In court on Wednesday, Brown waived her preliminary hearing, and her bond was cut in half.
Autopsy results are still not back on her son.
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