Jerice Hunter trial: DCS caseworker answers tough questions

The Jerice Hunter murder trial continued on Tuesday. An investigator who looked into child abuse, and a caseworker took the stand.

The former Child Protective Services agency was disbanded over allegations that the agency failed to investigate numerous cases. According to prosecutors this was one of those cases that were mismanaged.

The three complaints were allegations of child abuse, and they came in against Hunter before Jhessye Shockley disappeared.

There were three previous complaints before Jhessye went missing. The child case worker who investigated those complaints took the stand, and had to answer some tough questions from the jury.

A Department of Child Safety caseworker told the jury that she was first assigned to investigate Hunter in March of 2011, 8 months before Jhessye was reported missing.

The caseworker visited Hunter's two oldest daughters at school, and then visited Hunter's apartment.

She testified the children seemed healthy. The same case worker was called out again weeks later after getting an anonymous report that Jhessye's 8-year-old sister had 2 triangle shaped burn marks on her arm.

The caseworker claims Hunter told her the 8-year-old accidentally burned herself with the iron. 

The third complaint came from a family member who reported Jhessye's teeth looked like they'd been knocked out. 

The case worker said Jhessye seemed healthy and happy. In her report she did not mention the condition of Jhessye's teeth at all.

According to testimony all three reports weren't put into the computer system until after Jhessye disappeared.

The case worker also told the jury that she believed the kids were healthy. Hunter's apartment was clean, and Hunter was cooperative.

The jury asked the caseworker some tough questions. 

There were more than 10 questions asked including:
"Why did another investigator take over the case after Jhessye went missing?"
"Why didn't you do an unannounced home visit?"
"Why didn't you document the condition of Jhessye's teeth in your report?"
"Why did you wait 13 days to investigate after the first complaint came in?"

DCS officials say there is a long standing policy to conduct a criminal background check on caregivers. It's not known if the caseworker did that. We don't know if she knew that Hunter served time in prison for child abuse while living in California.

The attorney did not ask her those questions in court Tuesday.

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