Detroit mother of 6-month-old killed in drunken driving crash sentenced to 5 to 15 years

4 children were ejected; second driver left the scene

By John Steckroth - Editor , Nick Monacelli - Reporter

DETROIT - The mother of a 6-month-old boy who was killed in a hit-and-run crash on the Detroit’s west side was in court Friday for sentencing. 

LaToya Powels was charged with involuntary manslaughter, three counts of second-degree child abuse, operating with a high blood-alcohol content, operating under the influence with an occupant younger than 16 and operating with a license that was suspended, revoked or denied. 

She was found guilty by a jury on Nov. 2.

ORIGINAL REPORT: 6-month-old boy killed in hit-and-run; Detroit police search for driver

The driver of the other vehicle, Deandre L. Cody, 31, was charged with failure to stop at an accident when at fault resulting in death, two counts of failure to stop at an accident resulting in serious injury resulting in death or serious impairment, driving with a suspended license causing death, and two counts of driving with a suspended license causing serious injury.

Officers testified that Cody caused the accident and that Powel’s drinking was not a factor.

Cody pleaded guilty to failure to stop at the scene of an accident and the other charges were dismissed as part of the plea agreement. He was sentenced to one year behind bars followed by three years of probation.

“I love all of children,” Powel said. “I’ve taken care of them for all of their lives. It is a tragedy that this has happened and this is something that I will never forget for the rest of my life. Death is something you never get over.”

Powel was sentenced to five to 15 years in prison.

What happened

The crash occurred at about 8:30 p.m. on May 18. A silver Pontiac Grand Prix T-boned a minivan at the intersection of Archdale Street and Puritan Avenue.

The van was hit so hard it flipped and rolled over. There were six people inside -- Powels behind the wheel, a grandmother and four children ages 6 months, 2 years, 4 years and 12 years old.

All four of Powels four children were sitting in the back seat and were ejected from the vehicle.
Demetrius Brown Jr. was killed in the crash.

Police allege that Powel was partly at fault because she was driving drunk when she was T-boned.

Mother's preliminary hearing

Powels’ mother, Kay Powels, was the first to take the stand Monday afternoon. She was in the vehicle at the time of the crash.

“We flipped over three times and I hit my head,” Kay Powels said.

Kay Powels said she did not witness her daughter drinking before the crash. She also said the children in the vehicle were strapped into car seats.

A witness to the crash took the stand and described the crash.

“The windows were busted out of the van,” the witness said. “I didn’t see nothing but the mother running with her child saying, ‘Help me, help me please, somebody help me with my baby.’”

Officer Melissa Adams of the Detroit Police Department was called to the stand. She was on the scene of the crash.

Adams said there was a “strong smell of alcohol” in the van.

She also said the children’s car seats were not properly fastened. A series of questions related to photographs of the car seats.

The defense asked Adams about the report she wrote. No where in the report did she write about the smell of alcohol in the vehicle. 

Officer Richard Schwab was the last person to take the stand. He testified about the medical records and the report of Powels’ blood draw, as well as other reports.

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