Psychologist: Mom not criminally responsible in swing death

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LA PLATA, Md. (AP) – A court-appointed forensic psychologist says a woman who was found pushing her dead son in a playground swing in Maryland last year suffers from schizophrenia and is not criminally responsible in the child’s death.

The Washington Post reports that it’s unclear how the report could affect the case of 25-year-old Romechia Simms and whether a judge will declare her not criminally responsible or reject the findings and move forward with the proceedings. Simms’ trial was scheduled to begin Monday in Charles County.

Authorities have said Simms put her 3-year-old child, Ji’Aire Donnell Lee, in a playground swing the morning of May 20. She was spotted the morning of May 22 pushing her child’s lifeless body. A medical examiner ruled the boy died of dehydration and low body temperature.

According to a 14-page report obtained by The Washington Post, psychologist Teresa Grant of the Maryland Office of Forensic Services wrote that although Simms is competent to stand trial, her mental disorder caused her to “lack substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of her conduct or to conform her behavior to meet the requirements of the law.”

Grant says Simms is not a danger and that instead of being housed in a mental institution should be allowed to remain in the community. Simms was released from custody in December after her family posted bail and has been living with her mother and teenage brother.

Romechia Simms’s public defender, Michael Beach, told the paper he hopes his client would not be institutionalized.

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