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In re Niko M.

Court of Appeals of Nebraska

July 23, 2013

In re Interest of Niko M., a child under 18 years of age.
v.
Tamecka G., appellant, and Salome M., appellee and cross-appellant. State of Nebraska, appellee and cross-appellee, In re Interest of Samari M., a child under 18 years of age. State of Nebraska, appellee and cross-appellee,
v.
Tamecka G., appellant, and Salome M., appellee and cross-appellant.

NOT DESIGNATED FOR PERMANENT PUBLICATION

Appeals from the Separate Juvenile Court of Lancaster County: Linda S. Porter, Judge.

Jonathan Braaten, of Anderson, Creager & Wittstruck, P.C., L.L.O., for appellant.

Steffanie J. Garner Kotik, of Kotik & McClure Law, for appellee Salome M.

Ashley Bohnet, Deputy Lancaster County Attorney, for appellee State of Nebraska.

Pirtle and Riedmann, Judges, and Mullen, District Judge, Retired.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND JUDGMENT ON APPEAL

Riedmann, Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

The separate juvenile court of Lancaster County terminated the parental rights of Tamecka G. and Salome M. to their children, Samari M. and Niko M. Tamecka appeals, and Salome cross-appeals. We affirm the termination of Tamecka's parental rights because we conclude the State proved by clear and convincing evidence that statutory grounds for termination exist and that termination is in the best interests of the children. We also find that Salome did not properly cross-appeal and therefore affirm termination of his parental rights as well.

II. BACKGROUND

Tamecka and Salome are the biological parents of Samari, born October 2010, and Niko, born September 2011. However, the majority of the pertinent evidence in this case begins prior to the births of these two children. Tamecka has given birth to nine children total. In the 1990's, Tamecka lived in Houston, Texas, and was in a relationship with Michael W. Tamecka and Michael had five children: Marshawn W., Maxwell W., Maximillian W., Michelle W., and Maxine W. Maxwell was born premature and died 12 hours after his birth. Maximillian also suffered an untimely death, the details of which will be set forth more fully below. Tamecka has relinquished her parental rights to Marshawn, Michelle, and Maxine.

In early 2000, Tamecka ended her relationship with Michael and moved to Omaha, Nebraska, with Marshawn, Maximillian, Michelle, and Maxine. Shortly after moving to Omaha, Tamecka began a relationship with Timothy S. Tamecka and Timothy had two children: Silovonni S. and Selario S. Tamecka has relinquished her parental rights to Silovonni, and Selario is currently under the guardianship of another family member.

On March 7, 2001, Tamecka went to her job as a certified nursing assistant at a hospital. She left the children at home with Timothy. When Timothy picked Tamecka up from work, he told her that he had burned Maximillian with hot bath water. When Tamecka got home, she found Maximillian lying in his bed. He had gauze bandages wrapped around his head, arms, and legs and had burns covering approximately 75 percent of his body. Tamecka and Timothy continued to check on Maximillian and change his gauze throughout the night. They did not seek medical attention for Maximillian because they were afraid that their other children might be taken away from them. The following day, Maximillian began vomiting, and he died that night. Timothy wrapped Maximillian's body in garbage bags and placed it in the basement of their house. Two nights later, Timothy and Tamecka buried Maximillian's body at a construction site.

In July 2001, Tamecka's daycare provider called the police because she noticed injuries on 18-month-old Michelle's bottom. The injuries were a result of Timothy's whipping Michelle on the bottom with a clothes hanger because she had taken off her diaper and smeared feces on the window. Tamecka had been aware of Michelle's injuries prior to the daycare provider's calling the police, but Tamecka had not called the police or Child Protective Services, nor had she sought any sort of assistance for Michelle. When the police were talking with Tamecka about Michelle, they also inquired about Maximillian. Tamecka told the police that Maximillian was in Houston with his father, Michael.

Shortly after the incident with the police, Tamecka, Timothy, and the children fled to Colorado to stay with Timothy's aunt. After living in Colorado for a few months, Tamecka, Timothy, and the children went to Houston to stay with Tamecka's aunt. Tamecka told her aunt what happened with Maximillian, and her aunt called the police. The police asked Tamecka's aunt to wear a wire and record a conversation between her and Tamecka about Maximillian. During the recorded conversation, Tamecka told her aunt the entire story about Maximillian's death and burial. About 30 minutes after the conversation, the police arrived and took Tamecka to the police station for questioning.

Tamecka was eventually extradited to Omaha. She cooperated with the investigation and described the location of Maximillian's body for police. The police recovered the body on January 10, 2002. An autopsy was performed the following day, but the coroner was unable to determine Maximillian's cause of death because the body was too decomposed. Tamecka was ultimately convicted of child abuse resulting in death for her role in Maximillian's death and was sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment.

In late 2009, while Tamecka was incarcerated at the Community Corrections Center on work release, she met Salome, an inmate at the same facility. Salome was serving a sentence for attempted first degree sexual assault of a child. At the time, Salome had seven children by four other women. His parental ...


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