PRESTONBURG, Ky. (WSAZ) -- A Floyd County woman indicted for murder charge in the death of a toddler pleaded not guilty to the charge during a court hearing Thursday.
26-year-old Gladys Dickerson is accused of abusing 2-year-old Watson Adkins until he died.
Adkins died in September after police found him unresponsive at their home in Prestonsburg.
The Dickersons had custody of the child.
She also pleaded not guilty to four counts of criminal abuse for other children allegedly abused in her house.
Her bond remains at $2 million.
Her husband, Jason Dickerson is also charged with murder and criminal abuse. He will be will be arraigned in Floyd County Circuit Court on Monday.
Earlier this week, a Floyd County Grand Jury returned murder indictments against Jason and Gladys Dickerson.
Two-year-old Watson Adkins died in September after police found him unresponsive at their home in Prestonsburg.
The Dickersons had custody of the child.
The couple is accused of abusing the boy until he died. They are also facing criminal abuse charges for also beating Watson's four siblings.
According to court documents, Jason and Gladys Dickerson both face four charges of criminal abuse in the first degree and one count of murder.
The indictment charges that Jason and Gladys abused the two-year-old's four siblings between February 16 and September 29. According to the paperwork, Jason and Gladys also beat Gladys' two-year-old nephew, Watson, repeatedly during July, August and September -- resulting in his death.
Back in October, the KY Office of Inspector General issued an emergency license suspension of Dinosaur Playland Daycare, in Prestonsburg, Ky., for not reporting the abuse to authorities.
The couple remains in the Floyd County Detention Center in lieu of $100,000 bail.
The KY Office of Inspector General issued an emergency license suspension of Dinosaur Playland Daycare, in Prestonsburg, on October 6, 2011.
The center cared for Watson Adkins, a two-year-old from Floyd County, who was found dead in his home on September 29, the victim of child abuse.
According to the report, the Division of Regulated Child Care initiated an investigation at Dinosaur Playland on October 4, five days after Watson’s death. Preliminary findings of the investigation determined that:
“…on September 26, daycare staff observed an injury to the back of the head of a two-year-old child that appeared to have had sutures that had been removed. Staff reported that when the guardian was questioned by two separate staff members about the child’s injury, the guardian explained a different event to each staff to account for the child’s injury. Staff stated that they did not report the information to the proper authorities. Staff also observed and documented ‘red scabs’ on the stomach area of a four-year-old sibling on September 28, 2011…The child told day care staff that her uncle ‘dragged her on the floor from the kitchen to the living room’. The five-year-old also told daycare staff, ‘my uncle hurts me’ and the child pleaded with the staff member to take the child home with her; and staff stated that they did not report the injury or the child’s statements to the proper authorities.”
Adkins’ body was found in the home of an aunt and uncle who were his guardians. That couple, Gladys and Jason Dickerson were arrested and charged with criminal abuse.
Calls to the daycare have not been returned.
Gladys and Jason Dickerson had their preliminary hearing in Floyd County District Court.
Kentucky State Police in Pikeville arrested Jason, 30, and his wife Gladys, 26, Saturday night following the death of the couple's two-year-old nephew, Watson Adkins.
Troopers say Adkins died at the Dickerson's home along Town Branch Road in Prestonsburg Thursday evening. Investigators say the boy was dead when they got on scene.
Watson’s mother, Rhoda Lewis, says Watson and her other children had been living with her sister Gladys and her husband since March. She was awarded custody in June.
Details about how Watson died have not been released, but the investigation is ongoing.
The charges involve each of the four children in Dickerson’s care, according to the arrest warrant.
The judge said the Dickerson’s will be represented by separate counsel in future legal proceedings.
The couple remains in the Floyd County Detention Center on $100,000 bond.
Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.
Watson Adkins was pronounced dead Thursday evening. This is a story we have been covering and unfolding since Friday night. Now, WSAZ.com investigates and finds that little Watson's death is just part of an unfolding story.
The couple was not only charged with abusing Watson, but also several of his siblings who were in the aunt and uncle's care.
Gladys and Jason Dickerson face four counts of criminal abuse and cared for all five of Gladys' sister's children. The children's mother said she noticed signs of abuse months ago and is devastated it took one of her children dying to get them out of that home.
“My sister would say one hit the other and they were roughhousing. Well, all children get bruises, but not to the extent my children had them,” Rhoda Lewis said.
Lewis documented those bruises during regular visits with her children. All five were living with her sister, Gladys Dickerson, and Gladys' husband Jason.
“Here's a bruise on his head, and his ear is black,” Lewis said.
On Thursday evening, Watson that was found dead in the couple's Floyd County home in Prestonsburg. Gladys found the body.
“She moved the child from the couch to the floor and performed CPR to no avail. She then called 911,” Floyd County Deputy Coroner Chuck Hall said.
Details about how Watson died have not been released, but that didn't stop police from arresting the Dickersons, charging them with criminal abuse in connection with the death.
During their arraignment, startling new information was released. The couple is expecting a child of their own.
But, we were interested in how the couple ended up with Rhoda's five children. We called a Floyd County family law judge who would only talk in general terms. He said when the state removes children from a home, they first look to see if any family members are available and willing to take them.
“I tried to take them, but they wouldn't let me," Rhoda said. "She didn't want them for no other reason than to get the state money. That's all she wanted them for."
We called several state agencies to find out whether anyone ever followed up on Rhoda's claims and launched an investigation. But, when it comes to matters of juveniles, everything is confidential.
We called the Floyd County detention center to ask the Dickersons to share their side of the story, but they declined.
While Rhoda says she's worked hard to get her children back, citing her previous drug problems a thing of the past, we learned she was indicted in June on three counts of drug trafficking. Those charges are still pending.
Gladys and Jason Dickerson are facing a $10,000 cash bond each.
Bond was set at $10,000 each for Jason Dickerson, 30, and his wife Gladys Dickerson, 26, during a video arraignment in Floyd County District Court. A preliminary hearing is set for October 10.
The arrest warrants charge each with four counts of criminal abuse The charges involve each of the four children in their care.
2-year-old Watson Adkins was pronounced dead Thursday night at a home in the 1200 block of Town Branch Road in Prestonsburg.
The Dickerson’s, who are Watson’s aunt and uncle, were arrested Saturday. The boy's mother, Rhoda Adkins, says Watson and her two other children had been living with her sister Gladys and her husband since March. She was awarded custody in June.
The corner has not released details on how the boy died.
The couple remains in the Floyd County Detention Center.
Kentucky State Police say Jason Dickerson and his wife Gladys Dickerson were arrested in Elliott County Saturday following the death of 2-year-old Watson Adkins.
Watson died at their home in Prestonsburg Thursday evening.
The boy’s mother says right now anger is outweighing her grief because this death could have been prevented.
Rhoda Adkins-Lewis lost custody of her children in February because she had a substance abuse problem, and her sister Gladys got custody of them.
Rhoda says she noticed back in March during a visit with her children that something wasn't right, and she says throughout visits this year her kids would say they'd been hurt.
"They'd have to tear my babies away from me,” she said. “They'd say ‘Mommy, please don't let me go back. Don't let me go back,’ and the social worker is standing there not doing anything about it."
Rhoda says her son Watson would have bruises and scrapes on his face and body. Rhoda began taking pictures of the wounds. She says her sister Gladys would say they were a result of him falling in the house or playing outside, but Rhoda believed Watson was being abused.
"He (Watson) said Uncle Jason punched him, and they didn't take this under consideration,” she said. “They let him beat my baby.”
She says she'd show the social workers in Floyd County but could never get anything done about it.
"I just wanted to get my kids out of there,” she said, “and I tried so hard. I made I don’t know how many reports of abuse to lawyers, to social workers, to everything, to everybody, and nobody had the heart to listen. They just let it go like it was nothing, and now he's dead."
Watson's grandmother Mary Skaggs says she's heartbroken by the loss and furious that it appears to have come from the hands of her own family.
"It's the worst thing that could ever be,” Skaggs said, “knowing that we're not ever going to get him back. I'm angry. I'd like to get a hold of my son-in-law. I'd like to get a hold of my other daughter. I'd choke them to death."
Rhoda says she hopes this case may prevent similar tragedies.
"I think his death shouldn't be in vain,” she said. “I think it should be remembered, and all these other babies out here getting abused and them not listening, I think they need to start taking things a little more seriously, and his death might make them open their eyes and see there are other children too who might die if they don't do something about it."
We're told the social workers work for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services' Eastern Mountain Region based out of Johnson County.
WSAZ.com tried to get their side of the story Sunday, but they told us they can't make an official comment until Monday.
Jason and Gladys Dickerson are expected to be arraigned at the Floyd County Courthouse Monday morning. They're both charged with first degree criminal abuse.
The investigation is ongoing.
Kentucky State Police in Pikeville say Jason Dickerson, 30, and his wife Gladys Dickerson, 26, were arrested Saturday following the death of the couple's two-year-old nephew, Watson Adkins.
Police say it happened at the Dickerson's home along Town Branch Road Thursday evening. They say the child was dead when they got on scene.
The boy's mother, Rhoda Adkins, says Watson and her two other children had been living with her sister Gladys and her husband since March. She was awarded custody in June.
The Dickerson's were arrested in Elliott County Saturday and are now in the Floyd County Detention Center. They are both charged with 1st degree criminal abuse.
The investigation is ongoing.
Kentucky State Police are investigating the death of a two-year-old boy in Prestonsburg, Ky.
The Floyd County Deputy Coroner says Watson Adkins was pronounced dead at a home along Town Branch Road Thursday evening.
At this point police are not releasing any details on how the child died, but we’re told he was staying with his aunt when he died.
Watson’s mother Rhoda Adkins-Lewis says she’s devastated that she’ll never see her son again.
"I'm not going to get to see my baby graduate kindergarten,” she said. “I'm not going to get to see him riding his bicycle, playing in the creek, even the bad times when they'd fight over toys, I'm not going to get to enjoy that any more."
Rhoda says her sister Gladys and her husband have had custody of Rhoda's children since March.
Rhoda says she lost custody of her kids because she had a substance abuse problem.
"I made a mistake,” said Rhonda. “and I can't blame myself any more than I already do because I shouldn't have done what I did in the first place to put my son in the position to get hurt like that."
Rhoda also says there was no reason and no excuse for her son to die.
"It would be different if the baby was sick,” she said. “The pain and hurt would be the same, but the thoughts and fear and the pain my child had when he was taking its last breath, that's what is most heartbreaking."
Watson's body was sent to the medical examiner for an autopsy.
Rhoda says her other kids who've been staying at her sister's home have been taken into protective custody.
Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for further developments.
Floyd County Deputy Coroner Chuck Hall tells WSAZ.com two-year-old Watson Adkins was pronounced dead about 6:10 p.m. Thursday.
It happened at a home in the 1200-block of Town Branch Road in Prestonsburg.
Kentucky State Police tell WSAZ.com they are investigating, but are not releasing any further details at this time.
The body has been sent to the medical examiner for an autopsy.
Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.