After her 8-year-old son with cerebral palsy starved to de*ath, an Alabama mother was charged with mans*laughter and aggravated child abuse. A plea agreement allowed her to avoid any jail time.
According to her lawyer, Zedria Rankin entered a guilty plea on Tuesday to the lesser charge of child abuse and will undergo three years of probation.
LeBrawn Rankin, his son, was discovered unconscious at their Mobile, Alabama, flat on April 6, 2018, and later died. LeBrawn’s school officials allegedly alerted the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR) to concerns that he was being abused and neglected, according to a civil lawsuit filed against Rankin and the DHR. LeBrawn “suffered from severe dehydration, bed sores, poor hygiene and his diapers were not being changed for extended periods of time,” the lawsuit claimed. LeBrawn was confined to a wheelchair.
LeBrawn had only 23 pounds on him when he passed away, according to AL.com.
Rankin was charged in 2021 by a grand jury with mans*laughter and aggravated child abuse for “failure to provide food and/or care him” and “did willfully torture, willfully abuse, cruelly beat or otherwise willfully maltreat said child by failure to provide food and/or care for him, said abuse having taken place on more than one occasion,” according to the indictment.
However, Rankin pleaded down two years later.
Mobile County District Attorney Keith Blackwood told Mobile Fox affiliate WALA, “We are prosecutors, we want to get the bad guys, we have to do it in a way that is right, and is just, we don’t manufacture evidence. “We don’t fabricate proof. And in this instance, the evidence suggested that the defendant had been negligent. She admitted guilt for her role in that and received a punishment. In the end, it’s just a tragic situation, regardless of your perspective.
Rankin’s attorney, Rolando Rankin, said had she been convicted at trial, she would have faced 99 years in prison. Her “best interest” plea is not an admission of guilt, he noted.
Zedria is grateful to have found some sort of closure after what has been a protracted, difficult, and painful experience, he said. “My client’s life will never be the same as a result of this loss, but at least she can now try to concentrate on continuing to heal.”
The civil case is still pending even though the cri*minal case is over. LeBrawn’s estate filed the lawsuit in 2020, and it claims that Rankin and DHR “acted negligently, willfully, maliciously, fraudulently and in bad faith, beyond the scope of their authority or under a mistaken interpretation of the law, proximately causing the de*ath of LeBrawn Rankin.”
LeBrawn’s schools’ administrators frequently reported possible abuse to DHR, and the agency’s employees ought to have taken the boy out of his mother’s house, the lawsuit claims.
The lawsuit claimed that LeBrawn Rankin was “allowed to remain in a dangerous situation where he ultimately died.”
DHR’s spokesman declined to respond to questions about the lawsuit.
LeBrawn’s de*ath should serve as a wake-up call to individuals and institutions tasked with protecting children.
We owe it to LeBrawn — and to every child in the system — to make sure this never occurs again. The system failed him at every turn. No child ought to endure suffering like LeBrawn did, he declared.