(WXYZ) — He’s an accused child killer facing life in prison, but is 29-year-old Samuel Lester Smart the only person who could be responsible for the death of a 3-year-old girl? For six months, Simon Shaykhet has been uncovering new twists in the death of Trinity Chandler.
RELATED: CPS did welfare check on 3-year-old girl the day before she died from alleged abuse
We have confirmed CPS workers are under investigation, meaning they could potentially face criminal charges after the death of 3-year-old Trinity Chandler. An autopsy has found that the child died as a result of blunt force trauma to the heart, and prosecutors have added an open murder charge in addition to torture and abuse.
“He killed her. We know he killed her. You deserve that charge,” says Trinity's aunt Ronda Osterberg. State police have confirmed that at the time of the killing six months ago, both MSP and child protective services already had an open case into reported injuries suffered by Trinity. Even worse, we’ve learned child protective services visited the home in Groveland Township where Trinity lived with her mother and her mother’s boyfriend Samuel Smart one day before her death, but chose not to remove her for her safety.
“There’s supposed to be mandatory reporters or anchors to remove children," Osterberg said. "That’s evidence right there.”
State police have testified that Smart made a cell phone video of himself attacking Trinity, then deleted it. The footage was later recovered by detectives.
“As a parent, prosecutor – as a human being – it’s the absolute worst thing I’ve ever seen and it’s impossible not to have a serious reaction to it,” said prosecutor Karen McDonald. Both CPS and the state Children’s Ombudsman investigating have refused to tell us if those caseworkers remain on the job, or even what criteria determine when a child is removed.
“No question it’s a derelict of duty and indifference at the very least. But, it’s more gross negligence of someone just not caring,” said former prosecutor Todd Flood speaking about the caseworkers at CPS. He adds that both Trinity’s mother and the CPS workers could still be charged as well.
“Prosecutor McDonald is going to look at this and make sure she does everything right,” Flood said.
Trinity’s aunt Ronda adding, “He did this on the 14th. She died on the 19th. There are five days. Five days. You come home from work and see she’s being sluggish.”
7 Action News will continue to push for answers in this case. In the meantime, Samuel Smart remains locked up at the Oakland County Jail facing life behind bars. An attorney for him could not be reached for comment.
During a pre-trial hearing, Smart was given a 90-day period for a full psychiatric evaluation and is due back in court Nov. 3.