DETROIT – Felony charges were dismissed Thursday morning against two social workers in connection with the death of a 3-year-old boy who was found dead in a Detroit apartment in May.
Elaina L. Brown, 24, and Kelly M. Williams, 47, both of Wayne County, were charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree child abuse, and willful neglect of duty. Judge Kenneth King dismissed the felony charges of manslaughter and child abuse. The neglect of duty charge remains pending.
The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office had previously said all charges were dismissed. They are reviewing the court's decision for a possible appeal.
In May, the decomposed remains of 3-year-old Aaron Minor was found in an apartment in the 4400 block of Trumbull Avenue.
Officers were called to the Madison Estates apartments on Trumbull Avenue in the Woodbridge neighborhood after a maintenance worker went into an apartment because of a strong odor.
Police said the boy, identified as Aaron Minor, may have been dead for more than a week. His decomposed remains were found tucked in a bed.
The child’s mother, Deanna Minor, 28, was taken from the apartment by ambulance more than a week before the boy’s remains were discovered, according to police.
Deanna Minor’s mother said her daughter was under the care of a social service agency and her caseworker sent a text to her mother in March saying she was worried Deanna wanted to hurt herself. The case worker and her supervisor now face charges in Aaron's death.
Police found Deanna Minor receiving mental health care at a facility in Wyandotte.
The medical examiner determined that the death was a homicide.
Social workers charged
In April, Child Protective Services worker Elaina Brown received a referral from the mother's mental health worker, according to the Wanye County Prosecutor's Office. Brown visited the mother and child on April 21 and April 22, and determined there was inadequate food in the house. Authorities said that Brown told her supervisor, Williams, and that Brown sent a letter asking the mother to contact CPS.
CPS police and procedure requires that when a family cannot be located, fails to cooperate, or there are allegations of imminent risk, a CPS worker must contact the police for a safety check and file a petition with the juvenile court.
The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office said Brown and Williams had a legal duty to protect the safety and well-being of the child during an ongoing protective service investigation and failed to follow procedure and training as required by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). It is alleged that they were aware that the child's mother was increasingly incapable of caring for the child due to mental illness.
"We charged this case after much thought and deliberation," Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said. " 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."
Statement from DHHS:
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Children's Services Agency employees are committed to protecting vulnerable children from abuse and neglect. They have difficult jobs and care about children. MDHHS employees are deeply saddened by any child death.
These employees and all Americans are entitled to the presumption of innocence. MDHHS will let the court process proceed and has no further comment on the criminal charges. It would be inappropriate to discuss specifics related to an ongoing court case. MDHHS also is prohibited from discussing specifics of Children's Protective Services cases under the Michigan Child Protection Law.
The boy's mother, Deanna Minor, was arrested and charged in August with felony murder, second-degree murder, first-degree child abuse, second-degree child abuse and failure to report a dead body.
She was referred for a competency evaluation on Aug. 11.