A Prince George's County woman today received a suspended sentence for her manslaughter conviction in the 1989 death of her son, who died after she left him in a car for 2 1/2 hours on a hot day while she cleaned a house in North Laurel.
Judge Cornelius J. Sybert, of Howard County Circuit Court, handed down a five-year suspended sentence to Donna Mutyambizi, 22, of District Heights, and placed her on three years' probation for the conviction of manslaughter and child abuse in the May 31, 1989, death of her son, Jonathan Perry Courtney, 17 months old.
Sybert said Mutyambizi, who had another boy two months ago and has another son, must continue to receive therapy and parent counseling.
The judge said he could not understand that someone with intelligence would leave a child in a car, but that there imprisoning her would serve no purpose.
"To a certain extent, I agree that you have suffered as much as you can suffer," Sybert told her.
Mutyambizi's attorney, public defender Louis Willemin, asked the judge to render probation before judgment, which would set aside the conviction. Assistant State's Attorney Timothy G. Wolf requested a partially suspended jail term.
The defense attorney said the woman had acknowledged her error and already has suffered from the loss of a child and from being kept from attending the toddler's funeral because she was in jail. He noted that several family members in the courtroom today supported her, although they felt the loss of Jonathan.
The boy died May 31, after Mutyambizi left him in her car for 2 1/2 hours while she worked as a housekeeper in the Pilgrim Ridge housing development in North Laurel. The state medical examiner determined the cause of death to be hyperthermia.