Her death broke the hearts of many in the community and those charged in connection with the murder of 5 year old Savannah Vincent must still face trial. But there's also a civil action in connection with Savannah's death. And it aims to hold the State Department of Social Services accountable for a system some say failed Savannah.
It was June 2008, when five year old Savannah Vincent died of head injuries. Ultimately her father and stepmother were arrested and indicted for murder-- but Savannah's mother, Amber Vincent, says the system that helps to protect children from abuse must be held accountable as well. She says she complained that Savannah and her sister had suffered abuse while at their father's house. "I've asked them for help over and over again and they did nothing."
She says because the state dropped the ball, Savannah was subjected to unsupervised visitation with her father and stepmother. Attorney Beth Zilbert represents Amber in the civil case. "Amber did everything that a mother could do to the fullest extent of the law and the process that's available to her and the state agency failed her. She could not get the state agency to act on what she knew was occurring."
Zilbert says the state is trying to keep the suit from seeing the light of day by raising various technical issues that could bog it down. Said Zilbert, "Right now the state is doing everything legally possible to make sure that the public doesn't find out what happened."
Zilbert and Amber say their goal is to hold the State Department of Social Services accountable to prevent children from dying in the future. Zilbert hopes,"that the procedures that are used will become much more rigorous and that follow through will be something that happens in every case." Said Amber, "It's not about money because I would give everything they give me to have five minutes with her. You don't ever get used to losing a child."
Officials with the Department of Social Services say they cannot comment because the litigation is pending.
The criminal case against William Stewart Vincent and Barbara Virginia Vincent is set for trial in November. They are charged with second degree murder. William Vincent is out of jail on $100,000 bond. Barbara Vincent is still in jail awaiting trial.