Two social workers charged in Detroit boy’s death

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

Two state social workers were charged Monday in connection with the death of a 3-year-old Detroit boy whose death allegedly came at the hands of his mother last May.

Elaina Brown, 24, and Kelly M. Williams, 47, both Wayne County residents, have been charged in the case of Aaron Minor.

Elaina Brown, 24, and Kelly M. Williams, 47, both Wayne County residents, have been charged in the case of Aaron Minor.

Aaron’s decomposed body was found on the afternoon of May 25 in an apartment he shared with his mother on Trumbull near Warren on Detroit’s west side. The mother, Deanna Minor, allegedly had checked herself into a local mental institution when the boy’s body was found. She has been charged and faces a competency hearing in her son’s death Nov. 30.

The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office determined that the child’s death was a homicide. The boy’s mother was arrested Aug. 4 and charged with felony murder, second-degree murder, first- and second-degree child abuse and failure to report a dead body. The child was discovered in a bed at the apartment in the 4400 block of Trumbull.

Brown and Williams have been charged with involuntary manslaughter and second-degree child abuse, both felonies. Involuntary manslaughter is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a conviction on second-degree child abuse could result in a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.

Both women arraigned Monday and given $25,000 personal bond and ordered not to be around children as part of the jobs.

They were scheduled for Nov. 21 probable cause conference and Nov. 28 preliminary examination.

Brown and Williams have been suspended with pay as a result of the charges, said Bob Wheaton, a spokesman for Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services.

Brown has been with the department since 2015 and Williams since 1995.

Wheaton said he could not provide further comment on the allegations but that department officials “have reviewed that particular case.”

Wheaton said like all Americans, the women are presumed innocent as they go through the court system and that “our department will let the court system proceed” with the case.

Wheaton said the department is “saddened by the child’s death” and added “our employees are committed to protecting children from neglect and abuse.”

Deanna Shanta Minor

The prosecutor’s office said Brown and Williams were grossly negligent and reckless in connection with their treatment of the case involving the boy and his mother. The women “did cause the death of Aaron Minor” due to their gross negligent failure to “perform (a) legal duty” to protect the well-being and safety of the boy. They ignored ongoing reports, according to the prosecutor, that Deanna Minor was becoming more incapable of caring for her son due to her mental illness and that the child was becoming more at risk of being harmed.

Brown and Williams also caused serious physical harm by knowingly or intentionally committing an act that likely would result in serious physical harm to the child, according to the prosecutor’s office. The women also failed to develop a safety plan and monitor the well-being of the child, according to the prosecutor’s office.

“We charged this case after much thought and deliberation,” Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement. “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.”

According to the statement released by Worthy’s office, Brown received a referral from the Deanna Minor’s mental health worker. On April 21 and 22, Brown allegedly visited the mother’s residence and determined there was not enough food in the apartment.

Brown allegedly never saw the boy’s mother again after April 22, but did speak to her supervisor, Williams, about the case. Brown allegedly sent Minor a letter May 9 to contact Child Protective Services, which the mother failed to do, according to the prosecutor’s office.

“The CPS policy and procedure requires that when a family cannot be located, fail to cooperate, and there are allegations of imminent risk, the CPS worker must: contact the police for a safety check, and file a petition with the juvenile court,” according to the statement from Worthy’s office.

Brown and Williams were “grossly negligent and reckless” in performing their duties because they failed to provide a “safety plan” to protect the child and also they failed to respond and follow through on reports by mental health workers, failed to ask police for a safety check of the mother’s apartment and also to file a petition with juvenile court authorities and also to follow CPS policy and procedures, the prosecutor’s office said in its release Monday.

More details are expected to be released about the investigation, including events which resulted in Aaron’s death, during the preliminary examination for Brown and Williams.

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