A judge told a Dayton father who killed his 10-year-old son, Takoda Collins, after abusing and torturing him for years that he showed the boy no mercy and that the judge, in turn, wasn’t going to show mercy.
“This is the most horrific case of abuse and torture that this court has ever seen,” Montgomery County Judge Dennis Adkins told Al-Mutahan McLean. “It’s not just a murder, but it’s years of physical abuse, torture, leading up to someone’s death.”
McLean, 32, was sentenced to the maximum sentence he could under a plea deal, life in prison with the possibility of parole after 51 years. He previously pleaded guilty to murder, rape, kidnapping and endangering children.
Meanwhile, McLean’s girlfriend, Amanda Hinze, who prosecutors said facilitated the abuse and did nothing to stop it, was sentenced to at least 22 years in prison. Hinze’s sister, Jennifer Ebert, who lived in the home on Kensington Drive and also was alleged to have played a role in allowing the abuse, got eight years in prison.
The horrific case and a Dayton Daily News investigation that followed has led to a number of changes at the local level and the introduction of state legislation.
This newspaper’s investigation uncovered that police were called to Takoda’s home multiple times before his death. It also revealed that Montgomery County Children Services were called multiple times about Takoda.
Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. said he and his office have met with teachers, caseworkers, law enforcement and others to overhaul how child abuse investigations are reported and investigated so that what happened to Takoda Collins would never happen to another child in Montgomery County. He said so far there has been an increase of more than 30 percent in the number of cases being referred from Children Services to the prosecutor’s office.
Dayton Police has changed its policy for how welfare checks on children are handled. Montgomery County Children Services said the case added urgency for the department to fine-tune its policies, including increased training on procedures when dealing with uncooperative parents or guardians.
And it also motivated Ohio Rep. Phil Plummer, R-Butler Twp., to introduce a bill that seeks to reform the way county children’s services operate.
Ohio House Bill 4 would create an ombudsman office to oversee children services, create a mandate that county offices create a memorandum of understanding of their obligations that the state must approve, mandates that children services must disclose their reports to the local, state or federal government entity, that county children services offices must follow up with reporters to let them know their concerns were investigated, and it allows a juvenile court judge to order an interview or investigation when a parent refuses access to a child.
The bill has passed the House and is currently in the Senate.
Credit: MONTGOMERY COUNTY JAIL
Credit: MONTGOMERY COUNTY JAIL
Prosecutors said Takoda lived in hellish conditions, being beaten, locked in an attic and forced to stand in painful “punishment poses” for long hours. Prosecutors said a doctor who examined Takoda after he died said the boy’s bruising was the type of injury typically observed in catastrophic events like a severe car accident. Another doctor found that Takoda was battered from head to toe with hundreds of lacerations and abrasions to his head, face, mouth, neck and other areas of his body.
In a sentencing memorandum filed before the hearing, prosecutors said Takoda was punched, elbowed and stood on in the hours leading up to his death.
“Still not satisfied that Takoda was sufficiently compliant, defendant Mclean threw the child around some more, and grabbed him by the ears, and dragged him down the steps,” the memorandum says. “Defendant took the child into the bathroom and told him to clean his shorts, when Takoda again did not move fast enough, he was told to move faster or he was going to be drowned. Defendant (Jennifer) Ebert, from the living room, then heard splashing and Takoda gasping for air.”
The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office said Takoda’s 2019 death was a homicide, ruling he died of blunt force trauma in combination with compressive asphyxia and water submersion in a bathtub.
The defense said in their memorandum that McLean took responsibility for his son’s death, but that he didn’t abuse his son for years.
“Al, without reservation accepts that his actions resulted in the death of his son,” the document says. “He does not forgive himself nor point blame toward anyone else. He does however express concern for narratives being offered by others either vilifying him based upon a false history or recreating their own false history of involvement with his son.”
McLean, who will have to register as a Tier 3 sex offender and a violent offender if he is released from prison, did not speak during the sentencing.
Heck said after the sentencing that the punishment for the three was justice for Takoda.
“When this case first came to the attention of the Dayton Police Department and ultimately my office, no one had any idea and simply could not even fathom the extent of the depravity, the wickedness of the three defendants who were sentenced today in their treatment to Takoda Collins,” Heck said.
Lynda Dodd, the chief prosecutor on the case, said there was little chance that McLean would ever be freed from prison. She and Heck said that the office explored the possibility of seeking the death penalty in the case, but because the evidence didn’t show McLean “purposefully” killed Takoda, they could not pursue that option.
“There was certainly purposeful torture,” Dodd said. “There was no evidence that he intended to kill Takoda that day, he just intended to horrifically torture him that day that led to his death.”
During McLean’s sentencing, Adkins also took some time to talk about how the system failed Takoda. Adkins said he felt that teachers did everything they could to help Takoda, but others could have done more.
“Children Services just absolutely dropped the ball on this case,” Adkins said. “They were told what was going on, what was suspected of going on, and they merely went through the motions to check on the welfare of Takoda. They were very good at passing the buck and you (McLean) were very good at manipulating Children Services.”
And while the judge noted that there was blame to go around, he said that it was McLean who was the primary offender.
“It was you alone who abused, tortured and killed your son,” Adkins said. “What you did was pure evil. You provided no mercy to your son and deserve no mercy from this court.”
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