Ohio parents sentenced to jail for 'leaving two-year-old daughter to freeze to death on porch'

The father took full responsibility for the death of the two-year-old daughter

Sarah Harvard
New York
Wednesday 30 January 2019 18:37 GMT
Ohio parents sentenced to jail for leaving 2-year-old daughter to freeze to death on porch

The parents of a two-year-old girl have been sentenced to 18-months in jail after she died from being left out in the cold on their front porch.

Tierra Williams, 23, left their Akron, Ohio home for work on February 2, 2018 leaving her daughter, Wynter Parker, under the supervision of her father.

Two hours later, when Williams returned to their apartment, she found her toddler daughter unconscious and “frozen” on the porch, authorities said.

The mother immediately wrapped the girl with blankets and called 911. “She’s frozen! She’s frozen,” she said in the call.

Williams was pregnant at the time of the incident. She told the authorities that she left her daughter with Dariun Parker, the father, for two hours while she went out of the home with their four-year-old son.

Parker lost track of his daughter during a day when the town’s temperature slipped below-freezing, never reaching higher than 19 degrees.

The two-year-old girl, who was not wearing a coat or winter clothing, was rushed to the hospital, but died from severe hypothermia.

On January 25, Williams reacted in outrage to Summit County Judge Alison McCarty decision to sentence the mother to two years in jail.

“That is so f****d up,” Williams screamed in anguish, as a sheriff’s deputy put handcuffs on her wrists. “I’m so f****g mad.”

Parker, the father, said he accepted full responsibility for the death of their daughter.

“’I can’t tell you how sorry I am about what happened, it was a tragic accident,” Parker was quoted saying in the Akron Beacon Journal.

The parents both plead guilty to child endangerment in November 2018, a charge that carries up to a three-year prison sentence. While Parker and Williams had hoped for probation, the prosecution advocated for a prison sentence.

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Assistant Prosecutor Dan Sallerson claimed the death of Wynter was not the first time that Akron police had been called to the parents’ apartment because their children were outside unattended.

He argued in court that the toddler’s death was preventable, citing that the 25-year-old father was up all night and the family had breakfast together the morning of the incident.

“This is a dangerous situation that didn’t need to happen,” Mr Sallerson said. “It shouldn’t have come to that.”

Before adding, “We do have a young child who died as a result. We do think prison is the appropriate sentence.”

The judge acknowledged the couple, who have split up since the Wynter’s death, were in a malfunctional situation since Parker was stayed up throughout the night recording music in a studio for a non-paying career.

Williams, a hairdresser, also had to work during the day. Since she cuts hair clients’ hair at their homes, she could not have brought two children along with her.

“That needed to be resolved,” McCarty said. “That’s an untenable situation.”

She added that looking after their children should be their most important duty before alleging it wasn’t the case for the Wynter’s parents.

McCarty went on to explain that if two-year-old children, like their daughter, were left unattended, they can often get into life hazardous scenarios like drowning in a pool or drinking poisonous substances.

“There can be potential danger everywhere,” she added. “You two did not have eyes on. Not a lack of love, a lack of attention,” noting that it wasn’t the case all of the time, but “some of the time, which put both children at risk.”

McCarty told the defendants she will consider releasing the parents early.

Williams’ defence attorney, Kani Hightower, agreed in court that the mother made an error in judgement by leaving her daughter alone with Parker while knowing that he had not gotten any sleep the night before.

But she argued that Williams did everything in her power to rescue her daughter when she found her outside. In addition to warming Wynter with blankets and calling the police, Williams also cooperated with the authorities and prosecutors ever since.

Angela Williams, the maternal grandmother of the toddler, testified on behalf of her daughter, begging McCarty to give the 23-year-old mother probation.

The grandmother called Williams a good mother that made “one bad decision,” and already suffered enough since her daughter’s death.

“We need to heal as a family and not be pulled apart with her being gone from her kids and her family,” she said.

Since Wynter’s death, Williams and Parker had split up. The parents have split custody over their two children under the supervision of Summit County Children Services.

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