A 19-year-old Ridgeville woman and her boyfriend from Summerville have been charged with homicide by child abuse. Sadly, this is the second consecutive week that Charleston child injury lawyers have noted this type of cruel incident. Allegedly the woman struck her 16-month-old son because she thought the child was possessed, a more than strange assessment of her child. According to the Dorchester County Coroner’s Office, the impact from the strike caused serious head injuries. The child had been rushed to MUSC on January 6, 2011, and died two days later. Doctors called the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office because the injuries were consistent with child abuse.
The woman has been behind bars since January 14, 2011, when she was arrested and charged with homicide by child abuse. Last week, a grand jury returned a direct indictment for the mother’s 20-year-old boyfriend for the same charge. The boyfriend has been in jail since last Monday, when he turned himself in at the Dorchester County Detention Center.
Although the mother was the one to call 911 after hitting her son, a sheriff’s investigator, laying out the facts in last Wednesday’s bond hearing, disclosed that the mother admitted to smoking two bowls of marijuana between her first noticing the child’s serious injuries and the 911 call. This time span was more than two hours and by her waiting and smoking marijuana, “she failed to render aid in a timely manner,” the investigator said. Also noted by the detective, the medical examiner determined that the toddler’s fatal injuries were caused by a blow to the head and estimated the injury occured six hours before EMS was called.
The woman never denied having struck her child, she willfully told deputies of this instance of abuse, according to the affidavit in her arrest warrant. Her boyfriend was also forthright with deputies and gave several statements, admitting to consuming marijuana while in the house, and attesting that his girlfriend struck the child because she felt the child was possessed.
First Circuit Assistant Solicitor asked that bond be denied for the mother, claiming she was a fight risk, because after hearing of her son’s death she was planning to go to Florida to live with her mother. The woman’s attorney, of the Dorchester County Public Defender’s Office, made the argument that she was mourning her only child’s death and it was only natural that she would want to spend time with her mother.
South Carolina Code of Laws stipulates a person is guilty of homicide by child abuse if: (1) causes the death of a child under the age of eleven while committing child abuse or neglect, and the death occurs under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to human life; or (2) knowingly aids and abets another person to commit child abuse or neglect, and the child abuse or neglect results in the death of a child under the age of eleven.
Given the above information provided by the Post and Courier, and the applicable State Law, it can be said with some certainty that these two youngsters will be serving lengthy jail sentences for their harmful behavior and neglectful parenting.