The grandmother of slain 5-year-old Eain Clayton Brooks says authorities did not go far enough Tuesday with an additional charge of sexual assault against Matthew W. Kuzdzal, who was already accused of murdering the boy.
Robin Hart wants her daughter Nora D. Brooks charged for making it possible for Kuzdzal, Brooks’ live-in boyfriend, to beat Eain to death.
“Kuzdzal is not the only one that needs to be behind bars. My daughter Nora should be behind bars,” Hart said. “Most predators kidnap children. Nora handed Eain over to him. She left Eain with Kuzdzal. You cannot tell me that after all that was going on – the black eye, the burn on Eain’s face and the calls to CPS by the school and friends and relatives – you can’t tell me she was that dumb and did not know what was going on.”
Kuzdzal, 26, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment this morning before State Supreme Court Justice Christopher Burns on charges of second-degree murder and predatory sexual assault against a child, according to Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III.
The prosecutor could not be reached to comment late Tuesday on Hart’s insistence that her daughter be charged with being an accessory to murder.
Kuzdzal has been held without bail in the Erie County Holding Center since his arrest on murder charges in the Sept. 15 killing of Eain in the apartment at 27 Albany St., where the boy lived with his mother and Kuzdzal.
Before Eain was killed, his relatives said, they repeatedly contacted Erie County Child Protective Services and the state’s child-abuse telephone hotline in Albany out of concern for the boy, who had marks on his body they believed were caused by Kuzdzal.
After Eain’s death, an autopsy reportedly found signs on the boy’s body indicating that he had been sodomized.
Kuzdzal faces a maximum prison term of 35 years to life if convicted of murder and sexual assault, Sedita said.
But that is not enough punishment, Hart said.
“It should be life without the possibility of parole. And even that is not enough. It is unfortunate that the state does not have the death penalty,” Hart said. “That’s what the Bible says, an eye for an eye. If Kuzdzal gets 35 years to life, it still does not bring Eain back. Now it is up to us, Western New York and the state, to give this guy a roof over his head and three meals a day in prison.”
Today’s arraignment comes one day ahead of an Assembly public hearing to examine the practices of Erie County Child Protective Services in the wake of Eain’s slaying and the fatal beating of 10-year-old Abdifatah Mohamud by his stepfather last year in his Buffalo home.
The Assembly Committee on Children and Families and the Committee on Oversight, Analysis and Investigation will hold the hearing at 10 a.m. Thursday in Council Chambers at City Hall.
Hart said she plans to speak at the hearing and call for more accountability among caseworkers who investigate whether a child is in an abusive situation and should be removed.
On another front, Hart said she opposes any efforts by her daughter to gain custody of her infant daughter, Hope, who was born in the weeks after Eain was killed. Kuzdzal is the baby’s father.
CPS took custody of the infant and placed her with relatives while long-term custody issues are addressed in Family Court.
Hart said her daughter should not be permitted to have any contact with the infant, based on her track record as a mother.
She said Brooks is in the process of trying to get her daughter back. Under a court order, Brooks is allowed to see her daughter at least twice a week under supervised visits.
“If CPS ever tries to give Nora back her daughter, it will be over my dead body,” Hart said. “Any parent that allows this to happen to one child should never be allowed to have another child,” Hart said.
Because so much is at stake with the infant’s future, Hart explained that she wanted it known that her daughter has entered into numerous relationships with others before Kuzdzal, including a man who was a sex offender.
Brooks, when contacted by The Buffalo News, declined to respond and said, “You’ll have to call my lawyer.”
Peter P. Vasilion, Brooks’ attorney, urged Hart and others to take a step back and reflect.
“There is a lot of negative emotion between my client and Ms. Hart, and I would hope that Ms. Hart would see that attacking my client is counterproductive,” he said. “My client is a product of 24 years of a very bad domestic situation involving her choices as well as Ms. Hart’s choices and others. There is enough blame to go around for everyone in the family, and it won’t bring Eain back, and it may impair Robin’s ability to have a relationship with the new grandchild. People should take a step back and try to repair relationships instead of tearing them down.”