Severn woman won't be retried in death of son

December 10, 1996|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

Prosecutors have decided not to retry a Severn woman whose conviction on reckless endangerment charges in the bathtub drowning of her disabled 18-month-old son was overturned on appeal.

Assistant State's Attorney Nancy A. Harford said in Anne Arundel Circuit Court that it is unlikely that Donna Carol Davidson, 27, of the 1700 block of Ritchfield Drive could be convicted under guidelines specified by the Court of Special Appeals in its June ruling.

Davidson was sentenced on June 5, 1995, to serve one year of house arrest after a jury found her guilty of reckless endangerment for leaving her child alone in the tub while she answered a knock at the door on March 23, 1994.

The child, Marcus Price, had developmental disabilities that gave him the physical control of a 5- to 8-month-old and was alone for up to 15 minutes, according to court records.

The Court of Special Appeals ruled June 19 in an unpublished zTC decision that Circuit Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. applied the wrong legal standard for a finding of reckless endangerment.

Harford said yesterday that the ruling meant the state would have to prove in a retrial that Davidson -- who has an IQ of about 70 -- understood the risk of leaving her child alone in the tub.

"Given the defendant's mental capabilities, it would have been really difficult, if not impossible, to show that she understood the risks," Harford said.

Davidson, who was unavailable for comment yesterday, has remained free on bond.

Davidson's daughters, 8 and 4, stayed in the home after their brother's death because an investigation by the county Department of Social Services determined that Davidson is a fit parent.

Harford called the finding "a travesty."

Elyn Jones, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Human Resources, said Marcus' death would have triggered an investigation into Davidson's fitness.

The investigation would include in-home visits, interviews with neighbors and a check for any other incidents in which children ** were hurt, Jones said.

"Evidently, that was all done, and she was determined to be fit," she said.

Pub Date: 12/10/96

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