Family Fights for Rights of Son After Death of their Daughter - WLNS TV 6 Lansing - Jackson | Your Local News Leader

Family Fights for Rights of Son After Death of their Daughter

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A Jackson family is fighting for the rights to their son after their 4-year-old daughter's death was ruled a homicide.

On August 7th, Brian Giroux found his daughter Birklee's lifeless body in her room.

"She was laying just like she slept every other morning when I went to go wake her up," said Giroux. "It was the worst day of my life."

It was also the beginning of a whirlwind journey for the family. Two weeks later, a Michigan Department of Human Services caseworker showed up at the hospital, where Brian was recovering from chest pains.

"CPS walked in and said 'your daughter's death has been ruled a homicide. Where's Brody?' Those were the two lines and both of us were just like, what? We were in shock," said Giroux.

The news that Child Protective Services wanted to take away their eight-year-old son, Brody, turned Brian and Billie Giroux's world upside down for a second time and they say it's been a fight to get him back ever since.

"They're holding our son hostage right now. There are no criminal charges. I know it's an ongoing investigation," said Brian.

Prosecutors say that's just one of the reasons for putting the boy in foster care.

"The child may be either a material witness, may be potentially in danger or if you leave the child in the environment, a potentially coachable witness," said Jackson County Prosecutor Hank Zavislak.

Prosecutors say the boy could have been a witness to Birklee's murder. In court documents obtained by 6 News, the medical examiner's report says Birklee's cause of death was asphyxiation, or smothered, and the manner of death was a homicide.

Still, the Girouxs dispute any suggestions that the girl's death was intentional.

"We believe it was a seizure, or my daughter just has the sudden unexplained death syndrome," said Brian Giroux.

Prosecutors say the girl did have a history of seizures, something the medical examiner took into account, but still found no signs of it or any other natural cause. Court documents state Dr. Patrick Cho, who preformed the autopsy, cited findings of "pulmonary hemorrhage, numerous red blood cells within the alveolar and foamy blood tinged froth emanating from nares."

Prosecutors say since Brian and Bille Giroux were admittedly the only ones in the home at the time of death, they are "persons of interest" in the criminal investigation. But, the couple says the worst part of this, is knowing they can't see their son.

"We watch his bus drive by the house everyday. I don't get to check his backpack for homework. We can't take him to soccer. We don't get to take him to church. He doesn't get to see any of our friends or family. Being called a murderer is hard, but those things are even more difficult."

A spokesperson for DHS says if there is no lead about a possible arrest or suspect other than the guardians; it is standard protocol to remove a child from a home. As far as placing a child with a different family member, that is handled on a case-by-case basis. Since the Giroux's are being investigated, prosecutors say that's why they don't want the boy placed with any other relative.

The Giroux's have been working on building their defense, including hiring an attorney. The couple paid to take a polygraph test, which was administered by a private entity. The Giroux's have also been seeking input from a Medical Examiner at the University of Michigan. Brian Giroux says they will be back in Court on October 1st for a show-cause hearing. He says he expects their own team of medical experts to enter testimony at that time.

Brody did have a supervised visit with his maternal Grandparents on Thursday, September 23rd. The Girouxs say those visits will take place once a month.

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