GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The attorney for a Gulfport woman charged with child abuse is speaking out. His client is one of three people accused of locking two toddlers in dog kennels, but the district attorney's office has not yet received the case from the Gulfport Police Department three months after the three were arrested.
The district attorney's office has to have the case from law enforcement before it can consider taking the case to a grand jury for a potential indictment.
On Feb. 3, the parents of the two toddlers, Patrick and Brittany Braddock, and the grandmother, Pamela Davis, were arrested at their home on Hardy Avenue. Gulfport narcotics officers originally came to the house to serve an arrest warrant on Patrick.
Officers say what they saw was egregious, but Davis' attorney, Christopher Smith, has his doubts.
"The allegation is that they were locked in these dog kennels, and one would just think, in their mind, that they are being locked in there like animals locked in a cage," Smith said. "Well, certainly we don't believe that is the case, and we wonder what law enforcement is actually looking for."
At the time of the arrest, Gulfport investigators said there was no doubt that this was a case of child abuse and that other evidence was collected to support the charges.
Smith, a former prosecutor, said three months is too long to wait for an indictment for his client, and it's taking a toll.
"She's in limbo right now, because she's arrested in early February and here we are, three months later, and we don't have any formal charges against her," Smith said. "She's been suspended from her employment without pay."
Gulfport police officials say they have been communicating with the DA's office, and they are finalizing certain investigative needs. They indicated no specific date that the case would be forwarded.
Smith said he has to see the specific charges from the indictment before he plans the defense, and that would include if all three suspects should be tried together or separately.
In the meantime, Smith said his firm is conducting its own investigation, including interviews with neighbors and a review of the home's condition, which he describes as "normal."
"We truly think it was a huge misunderstanding, and that is a scenario that has been blown way, way out of proportion," Smith added.
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