Judge upholds conviction of mother in abuse case

July 19, 1992|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Staff Writer

A Circuit Court judge refused to clear the criminal record of a Prince George's County woman whose son died after being left in a hot car for 2 1/2 hours while she cleaned a house in North Laurel.

Donna Mutyambizi, 24, of District Heights, is serving three years' probation in the May 31, 1989, death of her 17-month-old son, Jonathan Perry Courtney. She was cleaning a home in the Pilgrim's Ridge subdivision at the time.

She was convicted of manslaughter and child abuse in October 1990.

Mutyambizi's attorney, public defender Louis Willemin, asked the judge to set aside the conviction but allow his client to complete her probation. He pointed out that, including pretrial supervision, Mutyambizi has been on probation for almost three years.

"She has advanced a lot and grown a lot in that three years," Mr. Willemin said. Mutyambizi will graduate in September from cosmetology school, where she works for tips, he said.

But Assistant State's Attorney Walter F. Closson said the court has been as lenient as possible.

"We still cannot forget that there was a death in this case," he said, urging the judge to deny the motion to clear Mutyambizi. "It is in the interest of the people of Maryland to keep this on the record."

Circuit Judge Cornelius J. Sybert agreed, saying "I can't really in good conscience do that."

He did, however, agree that Mutyambizi would no longer be required to receive psychological counseling.

Since the incident, Mutyambizi has had two other children, and is expecting a third.

Mr. Willemin said that through her probation, which was recently downgraded from semi-monthly visits to quarterly visits, the court has had a chance to see that Mutyambizi is a good mother.

In her Tuesday court appearance, Mutyambizi said, "I just want to give my kids the best." She said she needed a job to support her children, but obtaining one will be difficult with her convictions.

Especially difficult is filling out the entry on an job application, following felony convictions, that says: "If so, explain."

"I just can't see any way of explaining something like that," she told the judge.

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