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Old 12-06-2010, 09:16 AM
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Laura Laura is offline
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Question M.E.'s finding: Autistic Man's Death A Homicide

M.E.'s finding: Autistic man's death a homicide
Published: Monday, December 06, 2010, 1:25 AM Updated: Monday, December 06, 2010, 6:16 AM

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- A 27-year-old autistic man died of asphyxiation Saturday while under the care of a Staten Island psychiatric center, sparking an NYPD investigation and leaving his parents with questions about the professionals who were supposed to be looking after him.

Henry Jawara, who family members said had been a patient of South Beach Psychiatric Center on Seaview Avenue since October of 2009, died of asphyxiation and neck compression, according to the city Medical Examiner's office.

His death is being ruled a homicide, and his case has been turned over to the NYPD for further investigation, said Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the Medical Examiner's office.

An NYPD spokesman said that about 4 p.m. yesterday, emergency medical technicians arrived at the grounds of South Beach Psychiatric, where Jawara was a resident, and found him in a state of unconsciousness. He was taken to Staten Island University Hospital, Ocean Breeze -- also on Seaview Avenue -- and was pronounced dead on arrival, police said.

His mother, Sharon Rowe, of Stapleton, said she became troubled when her son started visiting home each week with a variety of alleged injuries she claims caregivers explained away.

"Last week they called and told me there was an accident and that he fell down," said Mrs. Rowe. "When he came home, he had four stitches over his eye. I took a picture of it. I would call and call, and when I questioned what was happening, they always made an excuse."

She added, "All I wanted was for him to get out of there, and they end up killing my son."

Cheryl Brooks, Deputy Director at South Beach Psychiatric Center, would "neither confirm nor deny" that Jawara was a patient there, and referred questions to Max Chmura, acting Commissioner of New York state's Office for People With Developmental Disabilities. Chmura did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.

Family members said Jawara was raised in the Stapleton household since he was a one-year-old.

"He was living at home with us, but he was getting a little bit aggressive," said his stepfather, Courtney Rowe. "We figured we should put him in a place that could care better for him."

Relatives said Jawara, who had the emotional profile of someone far younger than 27 years old, had become too much to handle in recent years, but came home every Sunday to visit with family.
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