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In re Jake G.

Supreme Court of Rhode Island

November 16, 2015

In re Jake G. et al.

Providence County Family Court Chief Judge Haiganush R. Bedrosian(04-1450-2) (04-1450-3)

For Petitioner: Karen A. Clark Department of Children Youth and Families, Lynn M. Radiches, Court Appointed Special Advocate

For Respondent: Christopher S. Gontarz, Esq.

Present: Suttell, C.J., Goldberg, Flaherty, Robinson, and Indeglia, JJ.

OPINION

SUTTELL CHIEF JUSTICE.

The respondent, Donald Greenslit, appeals from a decree entered in Family Court terminating his parental rights to his children, Jake and Lily. This case came before the Supreme Court pursuant to an order directing the parties to appear and show cause why the issues raised in this appeal should not be summarily decided. After considering the parties' written and oral submissions and reviewing the record, we conclude that cause has not been shown and that this case may be decided without further briefing or argument. For the reasons set forth in this opinion, we affirm the decree of the Family Court.

I

Facts and Travel[1]

The incident leading to the termination of respondent's parental rights is disturbing and gruesome. On January 22, 2012, respondent stabbed Stacie Dorego, the mother of two of his children, while in their home. After she died, he brutally dismembered her body and began burning her remains in a fireplace located in the basement of their house. The two children were present in the house throughout the entirety of the incident. The respondent relayed these facts to members of the Johnston Police Department, claiming that he had stabbed Dorego in self-defense.

In March 2013, respondent was convicted by a jury of first-degree murder (count 1), failure to report a death (count 2), obstructing a police officer (count 3), and violation of a no-contact order (count 4).[2] The respondent was sentenced to life in prison for the first-degree murder conviction, five years on count 2, one year on count 3, and one year on count 4. All sentences are to be served consecutively.

On January 25, 2012, the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) filed petitions in Family Court alleging that respondent had abused and neglected his son Jake, who was then five years old, and his daughter Lily, who was then three years old. On June 29, 2012, DCYF filed petitions in Family Court seeking to terminate respondent's parental rights to both Jake and Lily (TPR petitions). In wording substantially similar to G.L. 1956 § 15-7-7(a)(2)(i), (ii), and (vii), the TPR petitions alleged that:

"1. The father is unfit by reason of conduct or conditions seriously detrimental to the child, such as institutionalization of the father, including imprisonment, of such duration as to render it improbable for the father to care for the child for an extended period of time.
"2. The father is unfit by reason of conduct or conditions seriously detrimental to the child in that the father has committed or allowed to be committed, conduct toward any child of a cruel or abusive nature.
"3. The father has exhibited behavior or conduct that is seriously detrimental to the child, of such a duration as to render it improbable for the father to care for ...

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