By Abbey Doyle
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
Casey Huffman had only minutes with her son, Camdon.
She should have taken Camdon to his first day of kindergarten this year. She should be picking out a Halloween costume for him. She should be thinking about how to help him achieve his hopes and dreams.
Instead, Casey, 25, mourns over his all-too-early death.
Five years ago, Camdon died after his father, James L. Ratliff, 30, of Anderson, beat Casey while she was about six months pregnant. Casey went into early labor and delivered Camdon despite medical efforts to stop the labor. The premature infant died within minutes.
Casey said James Ratliff — her live-in boyfriend at the time — hit her, pushed her, threw her, threw things at her and shoved her into the kitchen counter directly on her stomach. He also battered her 2-year-old son, enraged that the boy had a dirty diaper.
“It was a one-time incident and happened so quick,” Casey said. “It was over in the blink of the eye. I’d never seen his temper. He was mad and needed to take his anger out somewhere. It was on me.”
Ratliff pleaded guilty in 2009 to Class C felony battery resulting in bodily injury to a pregnant woman and battery resulting in bodily injury, a Class D felony. The law for battery against a pregnant woman had been enacted just a month before the attack. He was sentenced to eight years in prison for the Class C felony and one year for the Class D felony, with the time to be served concurrently.
Casey said she held her son as he took his last few breaths.
“It was rough,” she said. “It was the worst feeling anyone can feel in their life. You don’t know the child, how he world have been. It is hard because you are never going to get to see them grow up, have the opportunity to see what he would have become.”
That tragic day — Aug. 28, 2007 — continues to haunt her.
“It makes it hard to be able to trust anyone for anything, not matter how long you’ve known them,” she said choking back tears. “Fear is always in the back of your mind. You will always have those ‘what ifs’ and wonders. My whole family lost out on a child they will never get to see, meet or talk to. It was life-altering.”
Casey is now happily remarried and has three children
“All I thought about while I was pregnant was a happy and healthy baby,” she said.
Yet, Casey said she has learned to focus on the positive.
“No matter how bad the situations is, make some good come out of it,” Casey said. “Keep the good better and make sure you are making a better life for your self and your family.”