No jail for mom in dead toddler on swing case

Romechia Simms and her son Ji’Aire Lee (Photo Credit: Charles County Sheriffs office and GoFundMe)
Romechia Simms and her son Ji’Aire Lee (Photo Credit: Charles County Sheriffs office and GoFundMe)

Last May of 2015 many across America were shocked by a tragic death at a Maryland playground. Police responded to a call of unusual activity at a local playground. Apparently, Romechia Simms was seen pushing her child on a swing for several hours; when police arrived at the scene, it was determined her child, Ji’Aire Lee, 3, was dead.

Simms recently appeared in court to face charges of manslaughter, first-degree child abuse and child neglect resulting in death. But before the trial could start, she took a plea deal that avoided up to 45 years in prison. Simms has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and the prosecutors in the case allowed her to plea to a lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter.

She was given a five-year conditional release order that makes her take medication, regularly see a mental healthcare provider and be monitored by the court.

Simms stated in court, “Did I mean for any of this to happen? No. It’s just an unfortunate situation.”

State’s Attorney Tony Covington stated, “As a direct result of her not taking her medicine two days leading up to this episode, Ji’Aire is dead. Essentially, and I can’t think of any other word to use for it your honor, tortured to death.”

A 14-page report issued by the Maryland Office of Forensic Services stated that “Simms is competent to stand trial; her mental disorder caused her to lack substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of her conduct or to conform her behavior to meet the requirements of the law.”

The prosecutors in the case stated that they were disappointed with the outcome but could not refute the evidence that Simms is mentally ill. She will serve no jail time or be housed in a mental facility. Instead, she will be allowed to remain and live in the community. She has been living with her mother and brother since her family posted bail for her in December 2015.

Mo Barnes
Mo Barnes

Maurice "Mo" Barnes is a graduate of Morehouse College and Political Scientist based in Atlanta. Mo is also a Blues musician. He has been writing for Rolling Out since 2014. Whether it means walking through a bloody police shooting to help a family find justice or showing the multifaceted talent of the Black Diaspora I write the news.



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