Child Abuse or Mental Illness?
Mom Pushed Son in Swing Non-Stop for Two Days
Romechia Simms has been charged with child abuse and murder. Very serious charges indeed. But unlike so many child abuse investigations where the debate is whether or not the abuse was intentional or accidental, the facts here are very confusing.
It happened in Maryland. According to the Charles County Sheriff’s Department, Simms put her 3-year-old son into a swing at a local park and pushed him, non-stop for two days. All day, and all night, for two full 24 hour cycles. The little boy apparently died there, of dehydration and exposure, and Simms kept right on pushing his little dead body for hours, until law enforcement finally showed up to investigate.
“No one in their right mind is going to sit out there for two days in the elements!” exclaimed Vontasha Simms, when she heard about the criminal charges against her daughter. And that’s exactly what Simms’ attorney is trying to express to the court. How could a fully rational, right-minded adult push a child on a swing for 48 hours without stopping. Without going to the bathroom. Without eating or drinking. Without sleeping.
According to Vontasha Simms, her daughter suffers from an undisclosed mental illness, and had only started taking medication for her condition in the last few months. Perhaps, she suggested, it’s a dosage issue. Or perhaps she has been prescribed a medication that isn’t working, or has strange side effects. Either way, what Simms needs is help, not incarceration.
But the prosecution doesn’t agree. Simms has been charged with manslaughter, first degree child abuse, and child neglect. She was ordered held in the Charles County Jail by a judge, who then set her bail at $150,000. In the event that she is convicted on all three counts, Simms may be facing up to 35 years behind bars.
State’s Attorney Anthony Covington has said that he isn’t sure yet whether or not the prosecution will review the charges after a court-ordered mental competency exam. But if Simms has a slowly developing history of what she called “mental breakdowns”, then there is likely more to this story than meets the eye. And it should be looked into.
Court records show that earlier this year, Simms and her son’s father had an arrangement to share custody of the boy. But apparently the child’s father petitioned the court for sole custody, saying that Simms was displaying erratic behavior. At one point she had allegedly jumped out of a moving taxi with their child in her arms.
Her child abuse and murder trial has been scheduled for January. As of now she has a court-appointed attorney, but her mother has expressed a desire to retain a private defense attorney to handle the case.