Man charged with murder involving foster child's death


by ANDY PIERROTTI / KVUE News, photojournalist ERIN COKER and editor ROB DIAZ

Bio | Email | Follow: @AndyP_KVUE

Posted on January 8, 2014 at 7:08 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 8 at 7:51 PM

WILLIAMSON COUNTY -- Two days before Orion Hamilton's birthday in October, authorities say Jacob Salas pinned the 11-month-old girl's head to the floor with his knee, fracturing her skull. This week, the Williamson County District Attorney’s office indicted Salas with her murder.

Brian Hamilton is Orion's biological father.

"It's been devastating,” Hamilton said in reaction to the indictment. 

The Texas Department of Families and Protective Services took the girl from her parents after she was found born with drugs in her system.

The agency placed Orion with family in the Cedar Park home where Salas lived. According to state records, neither DFPS nor the child placing agency that put Orion in the home conducted background checks on Salas.

Before Orion's death, Hamilton said he warned the state several times Salas lived at the home and was dangerous, but no one acted.

"[I sent] multiple emails saying, 'Hey, Jacob Salas could be a problem to my daughter's well being,’ and nothing was heard. They didn't do anything about it," said Hamilton.

In a statement released Wednesday morning, DFPS wrote, "Although there was clear and repeated deception on the part of the kinship caregiver, there was also available information and indicators of risk that CPS failed to recognize and act upon. We are learning from this case as part of our ongoing effort to make foster care safer."

The state agency did not provide details on what CPS did not to recognize.

Hamilton said the state failed his daughter.

"Maybe they should take some responsibility for what they do to prevent some other child being put in harm's way and then placing them in harm’s way," Hamilton said.

Since Orion's death, the DFPS has suspended placing children with the child placing agency which was responsible for protecting the little girl.

The office of the inspector general has also launched an investigation into how the state agency handled the case.
Child Protective Services is implementing a new safety plan and guidelines for its foster care system. That includes more training for case workers and more home inspections.

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