Conviction overturned in death of Detroit child who drowned in flooded basement

Associated Press

Detroit – The Michigan appeals court overturned the involuntary manslaughter conviction of a Detroit woman who has already served a prison sentence for the death of a child who fell through a hole and drowned.

The court said Tonya Peterson’s rights were violated because a Wayne County judge gave a wrong jury instruction.

In 2018, an 11-month-old child fell through a hole in the floor of Peterson’s house and drowned in a flooded basement. Seven children were living there, but no adults were present at the time, the court noted.

Peterson didn’t charge rent nor have a business relationship with Dasiah Jordan, whose child died, the appeals court said.

Judge Wanda Evans “erroneously instructed the jury that (Peterson) had a legal duty ‘to provide a safe environment’ to the victim,” the court said Thursday.

“Although the conditions within defendant’s home were undeniably dangerous, defendant did not owe the victim … a common-law duty of affirmative care to make the home safe,” the court said.

Peterson, 31, served 17 months in prison before she was released on parole in September.

Jordan, 29, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to a year in jail.