Two social workers charged with manslaughter in Detroit toddler's death

Two state social workers have been charged with involuntary manslaughter, child abuse and more in connection with the death last spring of Detroit 3-year-old Aaron Minor, the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office announced today.

Elaina L. Brown, 24, and Kelly M. Williams, 47, both of Wayne County, were "grossly negligent and reckless in performing their duties" because they didn't properly follow up after visiting the child's home and finding that there was inadequate food in the house, according to a news release from the prosecutor's office.

Detroit police officers found the boy's decomposed remains the afternoon of May 25 at an apartment on the 4400 block of Trumbull on Detroit's west side. An apartment maintenance man was drawn to the unit by a bad odor and had found the body, police previously reported.

Officers searched for the boy's mother, Deanna S. Minor, after his body was discovered and found her nearly a day later in a psychiatric ward at a local hospital. Nine days earlier, police said, the mother had been found unresponsive and lying in the grass  at the complex and was hospitalized for at least two days.

Minor, 28, was charged in August with felony murder, second-degree murder, first- and second-degree child abuse, and failure to report a dead body. She was referred for a competency evaluation and is scheduled to appear Nov. 30 in 36th District Court.

Brown, a Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Child Protective Services worker, on April 21 had received a referral from Deanna Minor's mental health worker and she visited the home April 21 and 22, finding there was inadequate food, according to the news release from the prosecutor. Williams is Brown's supervisor, and the two spoke on April 22, according to the news release.

It's alleged Brown never saw the mother and child again. On May 9, Brown sent a letter asking Minor to contact Child Protective Services, and she didn't, according to the news release. CPS policy and procedure require that when a family can't be located or doesn't cooperate, and there are allegations of imminent risk, the social worker must contact police for a safety check and file a petition with the juvenile court, the prosecutor said.

The prosecutor alleges that Brown and Williams failed to: provide a safety plan to protect Aaron, respond and follow through on reports of the mental health workers, ask police for a safety check, file a petition with juvenile court authorities or follow CPS policy and procedures.

Both are charged with involuntary manslaughter, punishable by up to 15 years in prison; second-degree child abuse, 10 years, and a public officer's willful neglect of duty, 5 years. The two were arraigned Monday morning, with a probable cause conference set for Nov. 21 and a preliminary examination set for Nov. 28.

"We charged this case after much thought and deliberation. We did not make this decision lightly. We must seek to hold these defendants responsible for their alleged inaction. The ultimate result in this case was the death of a child that never should have happened," Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in the news release.

Both Brown and Williams received $25,000 personal bonds with the condition that they are not to be around children in their work capacity, according to the prosecutor.

Brown's attorney Darryl Eason declined to comment, and Williams' attorney Deana Kelley didn't immediately respond to a voicemail Monday requesting comment.

USA TODAY


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