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Published: Saturday, 1/24/2004

Mom indicted in death of son, 3

A North Toledo woman accused of causing her 3-year-old son s death by exposing him to extremely cold temperatures was indicted yesterday by a Lucas County grand jury.

Angela Berry, 32, was indicted on one count each of murder and involuntary manslaughter for the Jan. 16 death of her son, Hassani Berry.

Ms. Berry, who is seven months pregnant, also was charged in the indictment with child endangering for an incident that allegedly occurred two days before the boy s death.

Prosecutors said Ms. Berry put the boy in a bathtub of cold water on Jan. 14 as punishment for either vomiting or soiling himself.

Hassani was found naked in the hallway near the front door inside Ms. Berry s apartment at 1520 Elm St. The boy was not breathing and cold to the touch, authorities said.

He was taken to St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center, where his temperature was 64 degrees, police said. He died later in the hospital.

Ms. Berry told police she found her son floating face-up in the bathtub and took him out of the tub. She said he was not breathing.

However, Ms. Berry s account was inconsistent with the coroner s findings in an autopsy. A final ruling has not been made, but Dr. Diane Barnett, a deputy county coroner, ruled out drowning, blunt force, or other trauma.

If convicted of the more serious charge of murder, Ms. Berry would receive a mandatory punishment of 15 years to life in prison. She also faces an additional five years if convicted of child endangering.

An involuntary manslaughter conviction carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence. However, Ms. Berry could not be sentenced for both involuntary manslaughter and murder.

Fearing child abuse, Lucas County Children Services took Hassani away from Ms. Berry four days after he was born in 2000, but the agency later returned him to his mother and made monthly visits until August, 2001.

The agency has said it plans to file a petition in Lucas County Juvenile Court to gain custody of Ms. Berry s unborn child after it is born. The woman s 11/2-year-old son was taken into custody by Children Services after Hassani s death.

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