Man charged in child abuse case

By Sara Bruestle | Nov 07, 2012

A Mukilteo man whose girlfriend was recently convicted of starving and beating his younger sister has now been charged with the same crimes.

Derron Alexis, 43, was charged Oct. 29 with first-degree criminal mistreatment of his 10-year-old adopted sister. Police waited until after his live-in girlfriend was convicted to charge him in the case. He has not been arrested.

Prosecutors allege Alexis beat the girl with a belt and withheld food, medical attention and other basic necessities of life.

The girl was so severely malnourished when she was removed from the couple’s home that she weighed only 51 pounds. She was also covered in bruises, scars and had an open wound.

Police took her from the home last year after two store clerks called Child Protective Services over their concerns for the girl. She spent two weeks recovering at Providence hospital in Everett.

Doctors said the girl had almost no body fat, and that her body had started to metabolize her muscles for energy.

In addition to “severe malnutrition,” doctors reported the girl had a kidney infection, that her body was covered with bruises, abrasions, scars and ulcers. They also said she had cigarette burns and “whip cord” marks on her body.

Though she initially denied being mistreated, the child later told investigators of the “hundreds of times” she was neglected and abused by both Alexis and his girlfriend Mary Mazalic.

In September, a jury convicted Mazalic, 35, of first-degree assault and first-degree criminal mistreatment of the girl, as well as of tampering of a witness.

She remains in jail and faces decades in prison when she is sentenced later this month.

The girl said her brother had beaten her with a wire and a belt, according to court papers filed recently. She said that he was present when Mazalic assaulted her. She also told investigators that they both would taunt her by eating in front of her.

The child had withheld that information from investigators initially because she said she cared about her brother and he was part of her family, wrote Snohomish County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Lisa Paul.

Paul said she believed it was in the best interest of the case to wait to file the charge against Alexis until after Mazalic was prosecuted.

“It wasn’t until after the trial that the prosecutor ultimately made that decision,” said Mukilteo Detective Lance Smith. “We had had discussions about it.”

“They were both responsible for the care of the young girl, and they both failed her, so I think that they both should be charged and face a jury,” he added.

Alexis is expected to be arraigned next month in Snohomish County Superior Court.

Prosecutors also allege that Alexis and his mother visited the girl when she was hospitalized last year. The girl’s adoptive mother reportedly told her not to say anything bad about Alexis to authorities, court papers said.

The woman had sent the girl from New York to live with her adoptive brother and Mazalic in 2010.

The girl is developmentally delayed, and it was determined she needed to be placed in special education classes, but the family had not wanted that, court papers said.

Mazalic and Alexis enrolled the girl in the fourth grade in Mukilteo without telling anyone at the school about her special needs.

Alexis reportedly told investigators that he and Mazalic both took care of the girl. He said he was involved in disciplining the child and was familiar with her eating schedule, Paul wrote. He also told police that she was well fed.

He worked nights but often was home in the morning while his sister was getting ready for school, court papers said.

The child told investigators that Alexis sometimes told Mazalic to feed her. She said he also sometimes gave her "some bad oatmeal, not really cooked," Paul wrote.

She said Alexis usually beat her with her clothes on, and Mazalic beat her with her clothes off.

Prosecutors also allege that Alexis failed to get the girl medical attention. His mother sent medication with the girl when she moved to Washington.

Alexis reportedly told police that when the medication ran out, instead of taking the child to a doctor, they gave her medication to someone else, Paul wrote.

Prosecutors also said there is evidence that Alexis lied to a state agency about the time he spent in the home.

Mazalic received state disability assistance and needed a caregiver in her home. Alexis was listed as Mazalic's formal caregiver and reportedly told the agency that he never left her alone.

An agency worker didn’t know the girl was living there and never met her.

“Had the worker known that a child was being left in the home with Ms. Mazalic, alone, she would not have allowed it because in her opinion Ms. Mazalic did not have the patience to be around children," Paul wrote.

It was noted many times that Mazalic was abusive toward the caseworker during annual visits.

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