JESSAMINE COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — A Kentucky mother said she is worried that her son will end up behind bars or worse if she can’t get him the help that he needs for his traumatic brain injury.
Antonio Reese was nine years old in 2015 when he was shot in the head while in a vehicle with his family on the way to dinner. Now his mother, Tara Murillo, said he struggles with anger issues and other problems related to his injury. He’s fallen in with the wrong crowd and has been in and out of juvenile detention centers in recent months, Murillo said.
Murillo has gone to psychiatrists and other mental health experts for help, but all have told her that her son needs specialized help for his traumatic brain injury.
She was told to go to a provider of rehabilitation services specifically for people with brain injuries.
Murillo said that her son was denied by the provider multiple times for reasons ranging from insurance to not meeting the qualifications for the program.
“The truth is, if I don’t get my child help, he’s going to end up where his shooter is at. He’s going to end up incarcerated,” Murillo said. “He’s been in and out of juvenile hall six times in the past three and a half months. Like my son is going down a dangerous road and nobody will help me.”
Murillo said that her son, who is almost 17 years old, is unable to function at his age level because of his injury. She wants to give him a chance to succeed by giving him the tools to cope with the injury.
“He’s about six or seven years old mentally, naive-wise,” Murillo said. “He is very, very naive and gets taken advantage of easily because he doesn’t have that ability to be his age.”
Murillo said that the bullet that hit Antonio in 2015 took out the right side of his brain, along with five brain surgeries. Doctors have said they want him to remain in school until he’s 21, Murillo said.
Despite that, Murillo said that her son has not been able to qualify for the help he needs.
“I don’t know how many times I’ve sobbed and cried because I’m frustrated, I’m angry, because he is a victim,” Murillo said.
Murillo said that her son’s doctors have told her about the prevalence of people who suffer from brain injuries and later end up incarcerated.
“So where do I go?” Murillo said. “Because pretty soon I’m just going to see my son through a glass all the time. And how unfair is that? To go from the victim to the perpetrator.”