Yesterday Samual and Donna Merryman were sentenced to 22 years each in the death of their Forever Russian Adoptee Dennis. Dennis, born Dennis Yuritsky was adopted in 2000 from an orphanage in Perm. The adoption agency is not known. Dennis, 8, died on January 22, 2005 of cardiac arrest brought on by starvation. The Merrymans claimed that Dennis’s condition was caused by cystic fibrosis. The couple are self-described born again Christians. They were home schoolers and also taught Sunday School.
Since it will go away soon, I’m including today’s Baltimore Sun article on the sentencing hearing at the bottom of this entry.
Notable excerpts from the article (if you can stomach it):
(1) “All you need to do is look at the autopsy photos of Dennis,” Harford County Circuit Judge Emory A. Plitt said. “It has a striking resemblance to the bodies from the German concentration camps.”
(2) Two older siblings described how Dennis spent nights in an unheated room, strapped to a crib without a mattress to cushion him. His hands were tied behind his back with an elastic band, and bells were attached to his body so his parents could hear him when he moved, the siblings testified.
They said Dennis was fed a puree of yogurt and asparagus as punishment for misbehaving.
(3) “The heinousness goes further,” Adkins-Tobin said. “They involved other children in it. Not only did they require them to take part in the abuse [by tying up their brother], but they made them play a role in the cover-up. Dennis, by dying, saved the rest of the children.”
(4) Their former pastor, the Rev. John A. Dekker, said, “They’re not criminals. They tried to do certain things for Dennis and it backfired. The judge had no sympathy.”
With all due respect Rev Dekker and the Merryman’s deep faithed neighbors (and I have never said this on the Daily Bastardette ever), Fuck You! Why, should the judge or any of us have sympathy for your friends the Merrymans? They starved and tortured a little boy.The killed an 8-year old child. They involved their other children in the torture, murder, and cover-up. If they aren’t criminals what are they?
I don’t like giving Forever Family killers recognition and hesitate to post pictures of them. But I also think it’s important to see the faces of those who kill defenseless children, so I’m posting their pictures here. We can only hope they get a very special welcome from their nice new less deeply faithed neighbors in the slammer.
Dennis Merryman and his Forever Family:
Franklin Baptist Church: They’re not criminals. They tried to do certain things for Dennis and it backfired:
I have updated Forever Family, Forever Dead to reflect the sentencing.
BALTIMORE SUN, April 17, 2008
Prison For Child’s Death
22 years for couple; son, 8, starved
By Madison Park | Sun Reporter
April 18, 2008
For parts of three days, friends and neighbors came to court to describe Samuel and Donna Merryman as giving and loving parents. Most said they could hardly believe that the Harford County couple could be responsible for the death of an 8-year-old son.
But yesterday, prosecutors said that two of the couple’s other children provided a look inside the family home in Whiteford — where, they said, their brother was bound, strapped to a crib and deprived of solid food.
And then a judge sentenced the parents to 22 years in prison each. They had, the judge said, starved young Dennis Gene Merryman to death.
“All you need to do is look at the autopsy photos of Dennis,” Harford County Circuit Judge Emory A. Plitt said. “It has a striking resemblance to the bodies from the German concentration camps.”
Dennis died in January 2005. Photos taken the day he died showed an emaciated 37-pound body.
Two older siblings described how Dennis spent nights in an unheated room, strapped to a crib without a mattress to cushion him. His hands were tied behind his back with an elastic band, and bells were attached to his body so his parents could hear him when he moved, the siblings testified.
They said Dennis was fed a puree of yogurt and asparagus as punishment for misbehaving.
In a stumbling voice, Donna Merryman, 45, gave a statement before she was sentenced, accepting responsibility for the death of the boy that the couple had adopted from Russia in 2000. She said she and her husband discovered that the boy had what they called frightening behavioral issues.
“It’s not the children’s fault,” she said. “We bit off more than we could handle, which is our fault — not Dennis’.”
The Merrymans adopted four siblings from Russia and brought them to their Harford County farm. The children, along with the Merrymans’ three biological children, are now in foster care.
“In hindsight, we were the problem, not Dennis,” Donna Merryman said. “We accept responsibility and ask forgiveness from our God and our children.”
When the judge handed down the sentence for the couple, Donna and Samuel Merryman, 40, were not emotional, although others in the courtroom started weeping. Instead, the Merrymans conferred with their defense attorneys and then were led away in handcuffs.
During the three-day sentencing hearing, friends and neighbors packed the court, often hugging the Merrymans and speaking of their deep faith. In response to the characterizations, Harford County Assistant State’s Attorney Diane Adkins-Tobin displayed an autopsy photograph of a skeletal child. Dennis’ jawbones and cheekbones jutted from his face, and his ribs protruded from his frail body.
Adkins-Tobin repeatedly asked the character witnesses how anyone could describe parents who so knowingly abused their child as kind and loving.
“The heinousness goes further,” Adkins-Tobin said. “They involved other children in it. Not only did they require them to take part in the abuse [by tying up their brother], but they made them play a role in the cover-up. Dennis, by dying, saved the rest of the children.”
One of the Merrymans’ attorneys, Andrew Alperstein, said grief and the destruction of their family had already punished them.
“Any objective person can see Dennis was in bad physical shape,” Alperstein said. “The Merrymans did not set out to kill this child.”
Craig Kadish, another defense attorney, said the couple has not yet decided whether to appeal the sentencing. They had pleaded guilty to first-degree child abuse resulting in death, and had charges of second-degree murder and four counts of child abuse dropped.
Prosecutors had asked the judge for the maximum 30-year sentence. But Plitt handed down 22 years, with credit given for the last three years that the Merrymans have been under house arrest.
“I have no sympathy for them at all,” said Adkins-Tobin. “They had no sympathy for Dennis. They were cruel and inhuman.”
The family’s supporters sobbed and formed a prayer circle inside the courtroom after the Merrymans were taken away.
Their former pastor, the Rev. John A. Dekker, said, “They’re not criminals. They tried to do certain things for Dennis and it backfired. The judge had no sympathy.”
Before announcing his sentence, Plitt read a statement from one of the Merrymans’ daughters.
“Children are not made to be abused. My parents ruined and shamed so many lives. … Dennis deserved to live, not die.”
Updated 22 April 2008 12:40 pm
Video captures takn from WJZ-TV
Speaking only for myself:
FUCK YOU indeed, “Reverend”.
These people are child murderers, period.
And David Polreis, beat himself with a wooden spoon–and then hid it.
We definitely need to see more sentences of this type for people who abuse and murder their children. No “behavior” problem or religious conviction can excuse this heinous crime. And where the hell were this pastor and all these oh-so-compassionate neighbors and friends while these people were starving this kid to death?
In addition to better education, screening and follow-up of adoptive families, we need to educate the general public about the signs of child abuse and how to report it. The church should have been a place where this could have been noticed and reported well before this poor child died.
I feel for the surviving children as well. They have a hard burden to bear for their lives due to no fault of their own. I hope the state makes certain these children are well cared for and get the help they will need.
At least the judge knew the right thing to do. Some justice at least.
Another great piece Bastardette, I linked your posts over here on my latest BLC post. Thanks as always for your incredible tenacity!
As for your ‘fuck you’? I think it’s the bare minimum that should be said to such- absolutely appropriate.
It’s telling that despite media attention, we still have no idea which agency did the placement and who did the homestudy.
Dennis’ death also shows the extent those in a community can either be in denial, or be willing to cover the behavior of those in their midst.
The sentence feels damn light compared to the magnitude of the crime.
I’m really trying to find the agency who allowed Dennis and his THREE siblings to be placed with one family at ONE TIME.
Rumor – STRICTLY RUMOR – not proven yet – that it was Bethany.
When (and if) I get the verification, I will send it along to The Daily Bastardette.
Thank you for exposing what is going on.
Fuck Off is a human response to murderers.
Too bad that others think these vile parasites can get off the hook because they are adopters.
It is heart breaking – and the list of dead children is much longer then this – Suncana In Memory has many.
Suncana In Memory the saddest website on the Internet – all involving child welfare.
They are also trying to expose these murders and tortures of innocent children, against the cesspool of the child welfare/baby broker/vile adoption machine.
And no one wants these murders covered up more then baby brokers and the adoption industry.
Thanks to you Marley for daring to even mention Masha or these innocent children – as no doubt you and all are the enemy to these parasite vile baby brokers that sell children for 60 grand a head in the US, and at least 30k in Canada.
These scumbags don’t ever want murdered children in adoption mentioned ever.
Might break the glass slipper of lies, bullshit and illusions.
Real research NOT CONDUCTED by the child welfare pimps has and will continue to show that more are abused in foster care and adoption as both are abnormal archaic experiments.
Marley, I really have to thank you for this post and the one following it. I think it enforces the point that Di was making with her “monkey” story. Anyone can fuck up “parenting.” These creatures sure did. Yet I can show you a squad of natural single mothers who are doing a great job. Being adopted does not, automatically, protect a child against abuse and being kept by a young single mother does not automatically equate with abuse and neglect. Adopters are, after all, human beings with just as many bad apples in the keg with non adopters.
Thanks bsemom. I think it’s important to keep these stories in the public’s eye. And there are obviously people who want us to shut up and go away. We’ll “hurt” adoption. I think “adoption” is doing a great job of hurting itself. Sometimes abuse or potential abuse can’t be predicted. But in some cases, such as the Merrymans, Highiers and Matthew Mancuso, the potential is evident and the industry didn’t care. $$$$$
DEATH DEATH DEATH. Let’s get off the liberal bandwagon and demand the death sentence for these depraved criminals. 22 years is way too short for these people. The ultimate sentence is definitely the only sentence which will bring justice.
Religious home-schoolers. Need I say more? Bunch of whackos covering up their evil ways with Bibles and calico curtains.
Actually Marley you did say fuck you to someone in your blog before-that lady from MassResistance who has a gay adopted daughter, but it’s okay-with all the fucking assholes in the Pro-Adoption world who can keep track! None of us should ever feel guilty for saying fuck you….they have said the same to us by closing our records and lying every single day. What goes around comes around..;)
You’re right! I forgot about the MassResistance crayzee. The word “fuck” has lost all it’s power, and nothing else has come along that near equals it. That’s why I use it seldom HERE.