Poindexter's troubled work history - and DHS's inability to get rid of an employee one former supervisor said "didn't seem to want to be a social worker" - was dissected Friday in the Common Pleas Court trial of him and two others in the death of the disabled 14-year-old girl.
Danieal's father, Daniel Kelly Sr., 40, is charged with child endangerment. He allegedly abandoned Danieal Kelly and her year-older brother, Daniel Jr., with their mother, Andrea, in 2003 after returning with them to Philadelphia following several years living with a girlfriend in Arizona.
Also charged is Mickal Kamuvaka, 62, cofounder and onetime chief administrator of MultiEthnic Behavioral Health Inc., a now-defunct DHS contractor paid to do twice-weekly visits to monitor Danieal Kelly's welfare after the case was taken from Poindexter in September 2005.
Poindexter is charged with child endangerment, as well as perjury over what he told the grand jury.
Lawyers for the three contend that only Andrea Kelly is responsible for her daughter's death. Andrea Kelly, 42, pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and is serving 20 to 40 years in prison.
Poindexter's attorney Craig Hosay struggled Friday to rehabilitate his client's image before the jury. He spent more than an hour questioning Martha Poller, a retired DHS administrator, about Poindexter's job evaluations.
Hosay focused particularly on Poindexter's Aug. 1, 2006, review, in which supervisor Janice Walker rated him "superior" in every category.
Hosay got Poller to confirm what he has described as personal animosity between Poindexter and his previous supervisor, Donna Grubb. Hosay also noted that Poindexter's performance improved under Walker, who had supervised him years before as well.
Grubb, who has retired from DHS, testified Thursday that Poindexter was suspended for 10 days in 2003 after the death of a three-week-old infant.
Grubb testified that Poindexter had been assigned in September 2002 to investigate reports of neglect involving three siblings. Poindexter visited one of the siblings, a boy, at his school and reported that "the child appeared to be safe."
But Poindexter's file noted that he went to the home to check on the boy's sisters, found no one there, left his business card, and never returned. On Dec. 20, 2002, DHS was notified that a 3-week-old baby born to the boy's 14-year-old sister had died.
Under questioning by Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Selber, Poller confirmed Poindexter's other suspensions, including one of 30 days in October 2005.
Poller said Poindexter was suspended - and Walker orally reprimanded - after Poindexter was sent to take a 14-year-old girl from her school to a grandmother's house after the girl reported she was abused at home.
Poindexter picked up the girl, Poller testified, but the grandmother was not home, so he dropped her off at 52d and Jefferson Streets with bus tokens and a few dollars to get to her grandmother's later.
The grand jury that recommended charges in Kelly's death criticized DHS's management then as a "toxic culture" where caseworkers failed to do their jobs and supervisors failed to hold them accountable.
Friday, Poller said she was not sure if Poindexter should have been suspended. She said she agreed to the discipline only after meeting with her boss and a city personnel officer.
As an intake social worker, Poindexter was supposed to investigate and refer a case for at-home services within 60 days, or close the case. When the Kelly file was taken from him in September 2005, it was still uninvestigated after three years.
Though the Kelly case was given to a new social worker to arrange at-home services through MultiEthnic, prosecutors allege that the DHS subcontractor did almost as little as Poindexter.
Kelly, who had cerebral palsy and could not care for herself, starved to death Aug. 4, 2006, in the filthy two-bedroom West Philadelphia apartment she shared with her mother and eight siblings. She weighed just 42 pounds and was resting in her own waste on a bare mattress, her back covered with deep bedsores.
Contact staff writer Joseph A. Slobodzian at 215-854-2985 or email@example.com.