A woman who was convicted of manslaughter for leaving her infant son in a hot car, where he died while she was cleaning a town house in Laurel in May 1989, was spared a jail sentence yesterday by a Howard County judge.
Donna Marie Mutyambizi, 22, of District Heights in Prince George's County was given a five-year suspended sentence and three years of supervised probation in the death of her son, Jonathan Courtney.
Ms. Mutyambizi, who has two other children aged 15 months and 3 months, also was ordered to continue receiving counseling at a health clinic and to bring her children with her on monthly visits to her probation agent so their condition can be monitored.
"You had high marks in college and then you do something stupid like this," Circuit Judge Cornelius F. Sybert Jr. told the defendant as he imposed the sentence. "I don't understand it."
Ms. Mutyambizi, who had spent 68 days in jail after her arrest, pleaded with the judge not to send her to jail.
"I suffer every day of my life for Jonathan Courtney, but there is nothing more to do to bring him back," she said. "I just want to take care of my two children."
Timothy G. Wolf, a county prosecutor, urged the judge to impose a jail sentence, with a period suspended and probation, saying "there is a need for accountability and a need for the defendant to take responsibility for her actions."
He noted that just before the incident, Ms. Mutyambizi, who was paid $20 to clean the house, was warned by her employers not to leave her child in the car while working.
Louis P. Willemin, the defense attorney, said that the child's death was "a serious error of judgment that was not made out of malevolence or ill will."
He noted that two members of the jury that convicted her May 22 were quoted as saying that they hoped she would not receive any jail time for the child's death.