Romechia Simms, the 25-year-old Maryland mother who caused her son’s death on a swing set will not face jail time. In May 2015, Simmons, who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, had been off of her medication and was suffering a mental break down when she neglected her 3-year-old son, Ji’Aire Lee. Forty hours after continually being pushed on the swing, even through the rain, the infant died from hypothermia and dehydration.
According to the Washington Post, Romechia accepted an Alford plea to involuntary manslaughter, meaning that she didn’t admit fault but acknowledged that the state had enough evidence to prove its case. Under Maryland’s version of the insanity defense, a judge found her not to be criminally responsible.
Romechia will remain free as long as she follows a list of conditions including: monitoring by state psychologists, avoiding unsupervised contact with children and submitting to blood tests to verify she is on medication. Failure to comply would result in her institutionalization at a mental-health facility.
Her mother, Vontasha Simms believes, “The right decision was made” and she has been fighting for mental illness reform in Maryland so individuals with similar inflictions as her daughter aren’t simply given prison sentences without their mental health being taken into consideration.
Coincidentally, the prosecutor in the case, Anthony Covington believes Vontasha is partly to blame for the death of her grandson. Covington has said that based on Romechia’s fragility, her family did not take the necessary precautions to monitor her when she was with her son. Covington also questioned why social services did not adequately follow up with Romechia after she was hospitalized a month prior to the incident for her schizophrenia.
According to reports, Ji’Aire’s father, James “Donnell” Lee, had raised concerns about his former girlfriend’s mental stability, but later told the judge that Simms was not an unfit parent and offered to share custody.
“I don’t want anybody to think that the state or this community is happy with this outcome” said Covington. “We have a defendant, Miss Simms, who knew she had a mental illness and did not take care of that mental illness.”
Despite three psychologists who found Romechia not criminally responsible, Covington has been very vocal that the infant did not have to die over his mother’s negligence.
“As a direct result of her not taking her medicine two days leading up to this episode, Ji’Aire is dead,” he said to Judge Hayward West prior to sentencing. “Essentially, and I can’t think of any other word to use for it, your honor, [Ji’Aire was] tortured to death.”
Additional Source: WUSA9