Mother who pushed toddler in swing for two days until he died spared jail


Schizophrenic Romechia Simms, 25, pushed three-year-old Ji’Aire on a swing for more than 40 hours until he died of dehydration and hypothermia. 

Simms, who was homeless and suffered mental health problems, admitted involuntary manslaughter which meant she was not criminally responsible for her son’s death. 

Police discovered Simms pushing the lifeless toddler after reports a mother had been seen pushing a child in a swing “for several hours” in La Plata, Maryland, United States. 

The mother was taken to hospital where she spent four days being evaluated.

Simms was charged with manslaughter and child abuse following the incident last May.

Following a plea deal the 25-year-old was told she would not be jailed or face time in a mental institution after entering a plea to a lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter at a hearing on Monday.

Simms, who faced up to 45 years in jail if convicted of the original charges, told the court: “Did I mean for any of this to happen? No. It’s just an unfortunate situation.” 

The involuntary manslaughter charge carried a possible prison sentence of up to 10 years. 

Medical examiners said there were no clear signs of trauma on Ji’Are’s body but ruled his death was a homicide. 

Authorities said Simms and her son first arrived at the park at about 11.15am on May 20 last year – two days before they were discovered. 

The toddler was alive when she placed him in the swing, Diane Richardson from the sheriff’s office said. 

The child’s father, James Lee, is said to have filed for sole custody just weeks before his son died. 

At yesterday hearing, a psychologist ruled that Simms was schizophrenic, but not dangerous. 

Simms will have to continue taking her medication, see a psychiatrist and meet any other terms set by a court monitor as part of her five-year conditional release.

Elizabeth Connell, Simms’ lawyer, said: “I’m happy with the outcome, this was the right thing to do.”

Simms shed tears as she attended Li-Aires funeral earlier this month. 

Attorney Tony Covington said he was not happy with the outcome, but did not have enough evidence to refute three psychologists’ findings that Simms was not criminally responsible. 

Mr Covington said: “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 honour, tortured to death.”

Despite being deemed competent to stand trial, Simms’ mental disorder caused her to “lack substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of her conduct or to conform her behaviour to meet the requirements of the law”, according to a psychologist report.

Psychologist Teresa Grant said Simms was not a danger and should be allowed to remain in the community instead of being placed in a mental institution.