Mom Charged In Son's Abuse Can Block Ky.'S Efforts To Take Him Off Life Support

Friday, March 30th 2007, 6:05 pm

By: News On 6

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) _ The state cannot take a 3-year-old boy off life support over the objections of his mother, even though she and her boyfriend are accused of causing his injuries, the Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled Friday.

The court said the state has no law that spells out whether it has authority to make such medical decisions when parental rights haven't been terminated.

``We lament the result, but even more, we deplore the fact that we as a commonwealth have been derelict in pondering and articulating our public policy as to the most helpless of our citizens,'' said Chief Judge Sara Combs, writing for a three-judge panel.

The court overturned a Warren County family court ruling granting the state authority to terminate life support for Daniel Kirkwood, who has been hospitalized since Feb. 12. Physicians testified that he would quickly die if he were taken off a ventilator.

Daniel's mother, Dreva Kirkwood, has been charged with second-degree criminal abuse, and her live-in boyfriend, Leroy Sturdivant, 24, is charged with first-degree assault. Both remain in jail.

The state assumed custody of the child when the charges were filed, but Kirkwood, 21, of Bowling Green, argued in her appeal that the state has no right to usurp her parental right to decide the appropriate medical treatment.

``That is her son, and she does love him, and she does not want him to die,'' said Leia Knee, a Bowling Green lawyer representing Kirkwood in the appeal.

Knee declined to comment on the case, as did special prosecutor Leslie Bucklew.

Vikki Franklin, spokeswoman for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said attorneys for the state plan to file a motion for discretionary review with the Kentucky Supreme Court.

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