Mother of boy allegedly killed by grandmother at Scottsdale hotel plans to sue DCS

SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) – The mother of the 11-year-old boy who police said was tortured and killed by his grandmother and her husband has filed a notice of claim. It’s against the Department of Child Safety.

The case dates back to January when Chaskah Davis-Smith was found unconscious in a hotel room at the Extended Stay America in Scottsdale. Police say Chaskah later died. His nine-year-old half-brother, Liam, was also in that hotel room. Both were under the care of their grandmother, Stephanie Davis, and her husband, Thomas Desharnais.

Over the last few months, the children’s biological mother, Amandria Smith, said she’s been trying to get custody of Liam. “She’s experiencing severe depression, but she’s trying to be strong for her son, who’s just been through the worst thing you can go through as a child. I mean, he saw his brother murdered,” Matt Boatman, Amandria’s attorney, said.

According to that notice of claim, Chaskah had “30 to 40 fresh contusions and lacerations” and “died as a direct result of the abuse and neglect.” Boatman said Davis never had custody of the boys and that if DCS had done their job in 2017 when they investigated the family three separate times, they would have known that.

DCS confirmed those reports. Two reports were determined to be unsubstantiated, and the family moved out of state as DCS investigated the third. It’s unclear if they noticed authorities in Minnesota, where the family moved. “When it’s your job to identify abuse and to save kids and to get them away from people that are abusing them and literally torturing them. We believe that they failed,” Boatman said.

According to an affidavit filed with that claim, a hotel employee with experience in child advocacy called DCS twice in 2020 to report possible abuse. However, she said they never followed up.

In the notice of claim, they write Liam had “significant scarring, abrasions, and bruises to his face, mouth, arms, legs and back.” However, when questioned at the hospital, he said they were “self-inflicted… because he was clumsy.”

“We don’t know exactly what went wrong and we won’t know until we get into the litigation. But it seems like they weren’t even talking to each other,” Boatman said. “This process will hopefully open the eyes of the community and will open the eyes of the people working at DCS,” he continued.

Amandria is asking for $12 million to settle the claim and avoid litigation. However, Boatman said they don’t expect the state to pay. Instead, they’re hoping to learn more about what was and wasn’t done. Meanwhile, the County Attorney’s Office has said it is seeking the death penalty against Davis and Desharnais.

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