A 24-year-old Maryland mother who was discovered pushing her dead three-year-old son on a swing was indicted on charges of manslaughter and first-degree child abuse. Romechia Simms was arrested on 12 September and arraigned in Charles County Circuit Court on 14 September.
Simms, who was found with her son Ji'Aire Donnell Lee at a park in May, argued against prosecutor's claims that she was a danger and a flight risk, state's attorney spokeswoman Kristen Ayers told the Associated Press. "I'm not a risk to anybody," Simms reportedly said, before being told to quiet down by her public defender. "I didn't even mean for this to happen."
Law enforcement officials found the toddler dead on the swing on 22 May after receiving a call stating a woman had been pushing a child in the swing for hours. Police found the boy's jacket in the trash and his shoes off his feet, filled with rain water, State's Attorney Anthony Covington said during the arraignment.
The boy died of dehydration and low body temperature while he was on the swing. According to AP, medical examiners ruled the death a homicide. Simms was ordered held, with a bond set at $150,000, and scheduled to attend a trial date in January 2016. She faces up to 45 years in prison if convicted.
Simms's mental state was put in question by prosecutors, with family members saying the charges do not fit someone suffering a mental illness. Simms's mother, Vontasha Simms told reporters: "No one in their right mind is going to sit out there for two days in the elements."
In a phone interview with the Washington Post, Vontasha said: "I feel like those are totally the wrong charges. I don't understand how you're going to charge someone who was mentally incompetent." She added she believes her daughter was charged months after the incident because "they had to do something".
Simms was briefly hospitalised before and after her son's death. Charles County District Public Defender Michael Beach told the Post his office was attempting to get Simms released from jail because she was receiving mental health treatment.