Danieal Kelly case prosecutor returns to court

It was just last July when Philadelphia First Assistant District Attorney Edward McCann nailed down the last three convictions among nine people charged in the horrific 2006 starvation death of Danieal Kelly, the 14-year-old girl with cerebral palsy who was allowed to literally wither away and die in her mother’s West Philadelphia apartment, her body covered with deep bedsores and lying in her own excrement.

McCann, 48, then 22 years into his career as a city prosecutor, had just been named acting first assistant. The administrative workload he was acquiring, he said, was significant enough that he guessed it would be some time before he went back into a courtroom.

Now, nine months later, McCann is returning to the courtroom to prosecute the parents of Khalil Wimes, the six-year-old South Philadelphia boy who died March 19, allegedly after being starved and beaten over a long period of time.

McCann said the similarities between Danieal’s case and the allegations in Khalil’s death drew him to the Wimes' case: “It’s obviously a passion of mine to prosecute child-abuse cases because of the impact they have on the system to make kids safer.”

Khalil’s parents – Tina Cuffie, 44, and Latiff Hadi, 48, have been charged with murder in their son’s death and are scheduled for a preliminary hearing Wednesday at the city’s Criminal Justice Center although McCann said the hearing will be continued.

Cuffie is being represented by J. Michael Farrell and Hadi by Derrick W. Coker.

Police say Cuffie – whose five other children had been removed from her care by city social welfare workers – brought Khalil to the Children’s Hospital the night of March 19, telling doctors that he had slipped and fell in the bathroom.

Authorities, however, determined that the boy’s death was caused by blunt force trauma to the head. Moreover, Khalil weight just 29 pounds, far less than the 45 pounds that was normal for a child his age. And the boy’s face, neck, back and arms were covering with old scars, which investigators alleged was evidence of regular beatings with belts and cords.

Like his siblings, Khalil also had been removed from his mother’s care. Until age 2, Khalil had lived with foster parents who were related to his father and reportedly thrived.

In 2008, over the pleas of his Khalil’s foster parents, extended family, and court-appointed caseworkers, Family Court Judge Charles Cunningham returned Khalil to his parents, apparently after Cuffie and Hadi testified that they had quit drugs and were back living together.

McCann on Monday said it was too soon to comment about what happened to Khalil and added that his office’s investigation was continuing.