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• The Hate And Rush To Judgement

Tammy Alicia Holycross Filicide..


Patrick Pierce
De Paul University, Chicago IL

The death and or abuse of a young child is repugnant to hear or think about. The first thought is
the need for retribution regardless of facts. Could there be any extenuating circumstances or
other guilty parties? Where there mistakes made by other parties or organizations? What else
may have been involved? The gut feeling is one person is to blame regardless of other facts or
circumstances involved. The articles written about this case reflect large amounts of hate mixed
with selective presentations of facts. This attitude also filters down to the judicial system and
other involved parties like CPS. With suicide there is a great deal of effort made to report the
surrounding circumstances and facts, with an effort to try and find an answer. I understand the
emotions involved by reporters etc. involving filicide but this is a serious occurrence which needs
to be addressed in full to reach justice. Society needs to focus on addressing this problem with
understanding of scientific research for future preventative actions. Simple or random
punishment has and will accomplished little or nothing.

2/5/96 Retired Superior Court Judge Eugene Gualco is appointed to lead the committee to
investigate the boy’s death and determine whether problems in the county’s child protection
system contributed.. The committee concludes that CPS made mistakes which leave children at
risk. The committee issued 43 findings and 35 recommendations to CPS. CPS workers
“appeared to be heavily influenced by a bias toward family preservation.” Sacramento County’s
Child Protective Services has been forced to change its policies. There is plenty of good research
available which was not utilized at the expense of the families and children they were responsible
to protect.

SUSAN HATTERS FRIEDMAN and PHILLIP J RESNICK from the Department of Psychiatry,
case Western Reserve University School of Medicine Hanna Pavilion, University Hospitals of
Cleveland, OH 44106, USA wrote on patterns and prevention. Among other things they found
filicidal mothers to be suffering from a definable group of mental disorders and social problems.
Tammy Holycross was experiencing many of these conditions such as frequent depression and
suicidal thoughts to name a few. Over a third of filicide happened during pregnancy. Tammy
Holycross was pregnant at the time. Help for women like Tammy Holycross for prevention is
difficult because many risk factors’ such as maternal depression and social disadvantages, are
common among non-filicidal mothers.

Tammy Holycross was well-known to CPS, first in Yolo County and then in Sacramento. The
fact that the committees findings that CPS had been making mistakes (43 findings and 35
recommendations) never became part of the evidence in the trial, and more important now, the
sentencing. Tammy Holycross was denied to take a lie detector test she requested. She had no
history of violence.
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Geoffrey McKee, a psychologist at the University of South Carolina’s medical school and noted
author said: “These women are not freaks.”

Cheryl Meyer, a professor in the School of Professional Psychology at Wright State University in
Dayton, agrees.

Cheryl Meyer said “I’ve met at least 40 women who’ve been convicted of killing their kids. I
went into the room the way anybody would go into the room-expecting to see a monster, and
what I saw was me. These were people just like me.”

Cheryl Meyer said: “ MALTREATMENT: The most common category is made up of child
abusers who aren’t necessarily trying to kill their children, but do so in the course of physically
abusing them.”

“There are exceptions, but there aren’t very many, in almost 100 percent of the cases, you can see
that the woman had no support and were at the end.”

The moms are not evil, says Stephen Nofffsinger, a forensic psychiatrist at University Hospitals
Case Medical Center.

“When women kill in the context of serious mental illness. It is usually through no fault of their
own. The parallel is diabetes or hypertension - chronic physical illnesses that cause long-term
complications.”

Tammy Holycross’s attorney, Eric Escamilla of Fresno, confirmed that he has newly discovered
evidence but plans to appeal her case based primarily on what he called “procedural errors.” The
attorney said he believes there was a rush to judgement by police, and that her case should have
been moved out of Sacramento because of publicity.

I am not making a judgement of weather Tammy Holycross was guilt or not. I’m only pointing
out the lack of justice in her case and what appears to be an emotional rush to judgement. I am
also pointing out an unfair sentencing. Too many important facts were disregarded, CPS made
mistakes and in many cases like these scientific psychological and social information was
disregarded in regard to sentencing.

Patrick Pierce BA Psychology, De Paul University, Chicago, IL