Detroit firefighter testifies in case against mother accused of leaving child in burning home

Mother accused of child abuse, allegedly neglected to tell firefighters baby was still in home

In a Detroit courtroom a case was raising questions about what constitutes child abuse.

DETROIT – A mother who firefighters say didn’t tell them her baby girl was still inside their burning home was in court on Friday (Oct. 29) on charges of child abuse.

The fire happened in April in a home on Riad Street on Detroit’s east side. The Detroit Fire Department said the fire is suspicious and reported the home was full of toxic smoke and burning accelerants.

Detroit firefighter LaVaughn Williams said nobody outside of the home told fire crews that there was a baby inside. Williams said the room was filled with black smoke when he saw movement in the crib.

Read: Baby found, rescued from Detroit fire after mother says house is empty

Detroit firefighter LaVaughn Williams after rescuing a baby from a burning home. (WDIV)

“I got her away from that smoke as quickly as I could. She was struggling to breathe. I ran to the chief, ‘Hey, chief. I have a baby,’” Williams said.

Detroit Fire Department Battalion Chief Myke Nevin was with the baby’s adoptive mother and asked her repeatedly if anyone else was in the home.

“We were told everyone was out except for the dogs,” Nevin said.

Read: Family of rescued child’s adoptive mother speak out after baby left in burning home

Twenty dogs were in the home. Firefighters said the mother’s focus was on getting the dogs out of the burning home.

The child’s mother, Chantel Alexander, went before a judge on Friday to find out if she’ll go to trial on charges of child abuse. Williams took the stand and testified that the only time Alexander mentioned the child was when he ran out of the home with her.

Alexander’s defense attorney argued that there’s no proof that Alexander knew her baby was inside the burning home when she ran out of it. Judge Kenneth King rejected that argument.

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About the Authors:

Local 4 Defender Shawn Ley is an Emmy award-winning journalist who has been with Local 4 News for more than a decade.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.