Backlog could possibly be accountable in 10-year-old Harvest homicide sufferer’s custody hearings delays

A ten year old boy dies at the hands of his father. The tragic ending with a custody battle taking center stage as a community tries to understand the terrible crime.

The Madison County Sheriff’s Office says Brian Buening shot and killed his 10-year-old son Tate before he committed suicide Friday.

The Madison County Sheriff’s Office is responding to “an active investigation into the death” on Blue Creek Drive in Harvest.

Tate Buening

We learned the shooting occurred two days after papers were delivered to Brian for a custody hearing that was due to be held on August 9, 2021.

It was a month between when Tate’s mother, Kayla White, called on the courts to withdraw custody after she said her ex-husband threatened to kill her.

Court documents paint a picture of a custody battle filled with allegations of death threats and violence.

Kayla claims Brian, a veteran, had a history of attempted suicide and suffered from PTSD.

The judge never ruled on the motion to revoke custody or custody because Brian shot his son and then himself, according to investigators, four days before he was due to stand before the judge.

Attorney Michael Timberlake says the delay in hearing about custody of District Judge Chris Comer could be blamed on a Madison County judicial system with too many cases and insufficient judges.

“I think everyone in our community should be concerned, the people who have the most problems here are the sheriffs and the judges,” Timberlake said on Monday.

“Especially when there’s a tragedy like this and people go back and look at it and say, OK with this avoidable thing that should have been done to avoid it.”

WAAY reached out to Judge Comer to discuss why this emergency hearing was scheduled for weeks so that the child could continue to be under his father’s care. Through a case officer, the judge said “no comment” on our questions.

Timberlake says they requested two or three new judges in Madison County, but those requests fell on deaf ears with the state.

Social media outrage continues to grow over a system many say failed at Tate. Hundreds of comments addressed to the sheriff’s office and the courts from people who did not believe the system was protecting the child.

And now questions began to arise about how the answering MPs handled the call so that Kayla White could enter the house when she discovered the bodies.

I contacted the sheriff’s office for an update and requested an interview with Sheriff Kevin Turner to see the agency’s guidelines for entering homes with welfare checks. I was told they are not commenting at the moment.

The memorial service for Tate takes place on Saturday.

His mother asks friends to write letters and send photos so that she can make a memory book and attach it to lanterns that the family would like to publish in celebration of life. The family did not say whether the service is open to the public or not.

For all friends who want to write letters to Tate, please write a picture and hand-send it or send an email to [email protected].

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