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South Kentucky Woman's Life Support Efforts Prompt Criminal Charges

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) - A woman fighting to keep her comatose son on life support has been charged in the beating that left the boy hospitalized.

A grand jury in Warren County charged Dreva Kirkwood, 21, of Bowling Green, with first-degree criminal abuse, first-degree assault by complicity and first-degree wanton endangerment.

Kirkwood's son, 3-year-old Daniel Kirkwood, hospitalized in Bowling Green on Feb. 12 and later transferred to Nashville, where according to court records, he is being kept alive with a ventilator. Police said Daniel Kirkwood had a head injury, along with bruises and belt marks all over his body.

Dreva Kirkwood's boyfriend, Leroy Jermaine Sturdivant, 24, has been charged with beating.

Bowling Green Police said Dreva Kirkwood told officers she knew about the abuse yet still left her child home alone with Sturdivant. Sturdivant would be responsible for the care of Daniel Kirkwood and Dreva Kirkwood's other child, a 1-year-old, while she attended Western Kentucky University. The 1-year-old was placed into protective custody after the incident.

Warren County Commonwealth's Attorney Chris Cohron said the case could be brought back before a grand jury if Daniel Kirkwood dies.

"We're still receiving medical updates on his condition," Cohron said.

Dreva Kirkwood has been fighting a legal battle to keep the state from removing her son's ventilator. The Kentucky Court of Appeals stopped the state from removing the ventilator and sent the case back to Warren County for reconsideration.

The appeals court said the state has no law that spells out whether the state has authority to make medical decisions over the objections of a parent when parental rights haven't been terminated.

Chief Judge Sara Combs, writing for a three-judge panel, said because Kentucky has no clear guidelines to assist in making a decision, the appeals court looked for precedent in other states. In doing so, the appeals court found that the state has no authority to make the decisions unless the mother's parental rights are terminated.
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Information from: Daily News, http://www.bgdailynews.com

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
AP-NY-06-16-07 1301EDT


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