DETROIT (WWJ) – A judge in Detroit has dropped felony charges against two Children’s Protective Services workers in connection with the death of a 3-year-old boy.
Judge Kenneth King on Thursday dismissed charges of involuntary manslaughter and second-degree child abuse against 28-year-old Elaina Brown and 47-year-old Kelly Williams in the death of Aaron Minor, saying there was insufficient evidence.
A misdemeanor charge of public officer – willful neglect of duty remains pending in district court. The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office is currently reviewing the decision for a possible appeal. A hearing is set for Jan. 12.
The 3-year-old’s decomposing body was discovered inside his mother’s apartment in the 4400 block of Trumbull after a maintenance worker reported a strong odor coming from the unit on May 25, 2016. The mother, Deanna Minor, was later found in the psychiatric unit of an area hospital and an “extensive investigation” began. She was later arrested on numerous charges including second degree murder, child abuse and failing to report a dead body. But a judge found her incompetent to stand trial.
Prosecutors had alleged that Brown and Williams didn’t provide a safety plan or ask for a police safety check, and failed to file a juvenile court petition. They were also accused of ignoring reports that the child’s mother was increasingly incapable of caring for him due to mental illness, and that he was at a continuing risk of harm.
Officials said Brown received a referral from the mother’s mental health worker and, upon visit to the Minor home on April 21 and 21, found that there was inadequate food. She never returned to the apartment to check on the child, according to prosecutors; and, when she told her supervisor about the situation in May, nothing was done other than sending a letter to Deanna Minor asking her to contact CPS.
Deanna Minor never called and her son was found dead two weeks later.
Lawyers for the two women said they were restricted by Child Protective Services department policy from having the child removed from the home.
“The CPS workers, based on what’s been put in evidence, did everything they were required to do,” said Darryl Eason, one of Brown’s attorneys.
The charges against the social workers were rare, but not unprecedented.
“This is a very overly broad application of the law,” said attorney Deanna Kelley, who represents Williams.
It’s still unclear exactly how Aaron Minor died. The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the boy’s death a homicide; but despite an autopsy and toxicology tests, the cause of death was ruled inconclusive.
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