2 going to prison in death of child Parents allowed baby to starve

September 28, 1990|By Raymond L. Sanchez | Raymond L. Sanchez,Evening Sun Staff

Despite tearful pleas for leniency from a young Brooklyn couple convicted of starving their 2-year-old daughter to death, a Baltimore Circuit Court judge today handed the parents maximum prison sentences.

Judge Arrie W. Davis sentenced the father, Allen Simpkins, 24, to a 30-year prison term with five years suspended, and the mother, Grace Catherine Geisler, also 24, to 30 years with 10 years suspended. They also received five years' probation.

Brandy Simpkins' body was found in her crib Dec. 18, 1989, at the family's home on Glade Court. Trial testimony showed that her stomach shrank because she had not been fed in four or five days. She died of malnutrition and dehydration -- a glass of water during her final days probably would have saved her life.

Of all the pictures he had seen in the past decade as a judge, Davis said, none were more "pathetic" than one of Brandy's doll-like body as it lay "helpless as if she were reaching out for help."

Earlier, Simpkins told the court: "I'd just like to say that I'm sorry for everything that happened. If I could change it I would."

Geisler, who was weeping before the sentencing hearing began, said: "It was my responsibility to take care of her. With me working, I couldn't fulfill the need that Brandy needed me. I would give my own life to bring Brandy back."

Simpkins' lawyer, Neil W. Steinhorn, described his client as an unemployed high school dropout and drug abuser who started with marijuana and PCP when he was 13. "His selfishness, his self indulgence . . . far surpassed any other need."

Steinhorn said his client spent much of his time away from the family's Glade Court home because of a stormy relationship with Geisler.

Joseph Fleischmann 2nd, Geisler's lawyer, said that Brandy's 4-year-old sister, Heather, was well cared for while Brandy simply failed to thrive. "Ms. Geisler did as good as she could under the circumstances," he said.

"These aren't people with college educations or even high school educations," he said. "They can barely read."

Prosecutor Laura Mullally said, "This case is about responsibility and the lack thereof to a vulnerable individual."

She noted that although Geisler worked several hours each day at a Brooklyn discount store before Brandy's death, Geisler was off the two days before the child's body was discovered.

"Both parents are still clinging to the fairy tale that their daughter was alive and well," she said, adding that when Brandy was found, her hair was matted and 1/4 -pound of feces had accumulated in her diaper.

"It's unfortunate," she said, "but Brandy Simpkins was unplanned, unwanted. She came into their lives as the sun was setting on their relationship."

"Together, they made the decision to bring her into this world . . . " Mullally added. "Together, they allowed her to die."

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