Alexexander Michael Harris
October 29, 1992 - September 13, 2005
Find A Grave Memorial 
Alex Harris was forced to run as punishment, at the Hope Youth Ranch in Louisiana. Alex begged for water from the people who were supposed to be looking out for him. He was refused and he later died from dehydration.

Eight former and current employees of the Hope Youth Ranch, in Minden Louisiana, would be charged in his death. Though they were not charged with causing his death on purpose, they were charged with doing nothing to prevent it. The charges included negligent homicide for denying him water when he begged for it and for making him run, as punishment.

Witnesses would testify that Alex was one of several boys in a group house at the Hope Youth Ranch and that they were forced to run as punishment when they misbehaved. Alex had begged his supposed caregivers for water and they refused to give it to him. Alex collapsed later and some older teens picked up him and dragged him to a
different location. One of the boys who had picked him up, dropped him when he started to vomit.

Witnesses said that Alex appeared lifeless and was just left in the sun for hours after he collapsed. He was eventually moved and medical treatment was given. Alex died on the property of Hope Youth Ranch, however, he was not officially declared dead until he was taken to Minden Medical Center. Eight people would originally charged, only three would face jail time. Anthony L. Combs, Arthur G. Henderson II and Kelton Greenard were taken into custody after each of them was convicted of negligent homicide and face up to five years for that
charge. For the charge of cruelty to juveniles they each face up to ten years:

"I know our victim's family is satisfied. This was a tough one, one of the toughest we've had" 
District Attorney Schuyler Marvin

In October of 2008, Judge Parker Self had handed down the verdicts of guilty for the three who were convicted. Sentencing was expected to come in six weeks.

  

Prosecution had been difficult due to the number of people who were originally charged and the number of witnesses who were, by the time of the trial, scattered through Louisiana. Each had to be called to the trial and interviewed before hand.

A small hurdle had to be overcome and that was conflicting reports from the coroners involved:

"They were not conflicting. But we had to get all of that worked out" 
Schuyler Marvin

The first report by Forensic Pathologist Frank Peretti was inconclusive and an addendum blames the death of Alex on hyperthermia and blunt force trauma.

In January of 2009, Anthony L. Combs, Arthur G. Henderson II and Kelton Greenard were found guilty and sentenced to serve five years at hard labor, on each count. Two years of that would be suspended. The sentences would be served concurrent and each will be on two years of supervised probation upon their release from prison.

     

I want to thank Alex's mother for contacting me about some corrections that needed to be made on the site and for allowing me to share even more pictures of this handsome young man. Below is the last picture ever taken of Alex. Imagine being a parent and having to know that, to know that you won't get more pictures of your child. My heart goes out to Amber in a big way.


This just in! I find it funny that they say the children who go to their facility are "at risk" children. They certainly are, they're at risk of dying due to neglect and ridiculous punishments.


Hope Youth Ranch in financial need
Written by Jana Ryan
Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Hard times have fallen on families, businesses and the U.S. as a whole and Hope Youth Ranch is no exception.

Roy and Lynn Martinez, founders and ministry administrators of the ranch, recently issued a statement requesting assistance for the Christian-based home for at-risk boys.

The facility, which is a 501(c) 3 charity, began experiencing difficulties in the latter part of last summer due to budget cutbacks from the state.

“We’ve always operated at a loss, and now the ranch’s cash intake has been reduced by approximately 30 percent,” said Martinez. 

Money generated by state contracts pays about 94 to 95 percent of the ranch’s actual costs, therefore the facility automatically operates at a five to six percent loss every year. 

“We have to make that up by donations or contributions from businesses and individuals,” Martinez explained.

Fixed expenditures include insurance, which runs between $250,000 to $300,000 per year. Other costs are directly related to the number of children being housed at the ranch, such as staffing.

“Right now, we have four master level therapists,” said Martinez. “We need them when we have 65 to 68 kids, but we don’t need all of them when we just have 50 kids, like now.”

Martinez said the ranch could eliminate one of the therapists, but the number of residents could grow within the next two weeks, forcing the facility to search for a new therapist.

“It’s just one of those things where we are caught in limbo,” said Martinez.

The administrator said seeking financial assistance from the parents or families of the boys housed at the ranch is not an option.

“All of these kids are in state custody,” said Martinez. “Most have been taken away from the parents because of neglect, abuse or abandonment. Most of them fall in that category, but there are some who have been adjudicated.”

Martinez said those who have been adjudicated are in the criminal justice system and are on probation while living at the ranch. 

“Most of those boys have parents to go back to,” said Martinez. “The ones who have been taken away from their home, unless something happens to improve the home, they aren’t going back to that home. The state is therefore looking for a place for them to go — either be adopted or go to a foster home.”

Martinez said it is no secret that the ranch has experienced some problems during the past couple of years, namely the death of one of its residents, Alex Harris.

Just last month, three ranch employees were found guilty of negligent homicide and cruelty to a juvenile and sentenced to serve five years at hard labor in the Louisiana Department of Corrections on each count, two years suspended. The sentences are to run concurrent and once served, will be followed by two years of active, supervised probation.

“Bad news travels fast, while good news or good works sometimes are only known by God,” said Martinez. “This past year, 110 young men from Hope Youth Ranch made a public profession of faith and became followers of Christ. I don’t know about you, but for my money, if we took all of the funds paid by the state and all monetary donations and we only were responsible for helping one boy save his soul, it would have been money well spent.”

Roy and Lynn Martinez cannot say just how long the facility can continue to operate under its current financial strain.

“How long can we operate? I don’t the answer to that,” said Martinez. “We don’t have any definite plans. When you’re short $25,000 a month, you can’t generate income like that other than getting the state to make some moves or getting someone to come in and help support what we are doing here.”

The facility founders have asked to meet with the Department of Social Services, the Office of Community Services and the Office of Juvenile Justice (the department that determines which kids are transferred to Hope Youth Ranch). Martinez was scheduled to meet this week with Sen. Robert Adley and was attempting to set up a meeting with Rep. Jean Deorge.

“We believe that God has much more work for us to do here and God will be placing the Ranch Ministry on the hearts of many in our community and the surrounding region,” said Martinez. “We pray that God will send help through you, His people. If you are not able to give financially, please add us to your prayer list.”

Death Occurred in the state of Louisiana

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