By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

BOSTON, March 6, 2008 ( – Haleigh Poutre, now 14, was so brutally beaten more than two years ago by her adoptive parents, that she was left in a coma from which she was never expected to revive. However, she may now be well enough to testify against the man accused of assaulting her.

Haleigh has spent the last two years recovering at the Franciscan Hospital for Children near Boston. On Sept. 11, 2005, Haleigh was taken to hospital in “an unresponsive state”, according to court documents. “Haleigh had both old and new bruises, old and new open cuts, several apparent weeping burns, and a CAT scan revealed a subdural hematoma [a collection of blood on the surface of the brain].”

After the adoptive parents, Jason and Holli Strickland, were arrested, Holli committed suicide, leaving only the stepfather in charge of making medical decisions.

Haleigh then became a ward of the Massachusetts Department of Social Services, which sought and obtained a court order in October, 2005, to remove her life support, only six days after the state had gained custody over her.

Ironically, it was Jason Strickland who fought to keep her alive, though his incentive to do so may have been the possibility of facing murder charges if she had died.

Fortunately for Haleigh, the slowness of the court appeals process spared her life. The court made its final decision to euthanize her in January, 2006, by which time she was showing signs of alertness. Just days before doctors were going to remove her life support systems she began breathing on her own, and the Department of Social Services halted plans to remove her feeding tube.

Haleigh is now in rehabilitation and is enrolled at the day school at Franciscan Hospital for Children. She can communicate by using a keyboard and computer and can speak some words.

The irony in this case is that Jason Strickland, who faces multiple assault charges, but in the long run ultimately saved Haleigh’s life, may be convicted by Haleigh’s testimony against him, while the Massachusetts Department of Social Services, which sought to kill her after being told she wouldn’t have a “meaningful” life, won’t be at court.

Read previous coverage:

Comatose 11 Year-Old Girl Breathing on Her Own May Still be Dehydrated to Death