Audrionna Rhoades, 21, cries during a hearing adjourning her case for 60 days in 41A District Court in Shelby Township on October 8. (Brandy Baker / The Detroit News)
Shelby Township — A Shelby Township woman charged in the death of her 2-year-old son had her case adjourned Tuesday for 60 days so she can undergo culpability and mental illness exams.
Audrionna Rhoades appeared before Judge Matthew Rumora in 41-A District Court in Shelby Township on second-degree murder and child abuse charges.
Police allege Rhoades, 21, buckled her son, James Nelson, into the safety seat of a minivan at 8:30 a.m. Sept. 3 at Dequindre Estates mobile home park in Shelby Township and then drove another car to work.
Authorities said Rhoades’ roommate noticed the boy’s foot through the window of the van about 6 p.m. that day. The child was rushed to Beaumont Hospital in Troy, where he died shortly afterward.
The Macomb County medical examiner ruled the boy’s death resulted from an abnormally high body temperature.
A conviction for second-degree murder carries a life sentence, and the additional count of child abuse (leaving a child in a vehicle resulting in death) is a 15-year felony.
Rhoades is being held on $500,000 bond. Her attorney, Randy Rodnick, Tuesday asked that the bond be lowered to $100,000 since Rhoades has no criminal record, worked and was attending college before the death of her son.
William Cataldo, Macomb County assistant prosecutor, argued the bond shouldn’t be lowered because Rhoades is charged with second-degree murder.
“This is a 2-year-old child who died,” Cataldo said. ‘This is a woman ... days before the death of the child, was partying, drinking and smoking marijuana.”
Rumora left the bond at $500,000 but said he would refer the reduction request to community corrections for review.
After the hearing, Rodnick said he didn’t know anything about Cataldo’s comments about Rhoades.
“She is a 21-year-old woman. Did she go out to a bar? It is possible but it has nothing to do with anything. I have gone out to a bar,” he said.
Rodnick, who was court appointed, said he has to review the evidence in the case and asked for culpability and mental illness exams to protect the interest of his client.
“My understanding is that she is on suicide watch at the Macomb County Jail. I don’t know what state she is in,” he said.