After serving nearly half of a four-year prison term for failing to protect her toddler son from severe abuse, Antoinette Hairston was released from prison yesterday but not from the expectation that she will continue to rehabilitate herself.
Hairston, 27, was sentenced Nov. 6 in Lucas County Common Pleas Court on a charge of involuntary manslaughter for the Dec. 26, 2007, death of her son. Because she was given credit for the time spent in custody before her plea, Hairston had completed nearly half that prison term before she was granted release yesterday and placed on probation.
Judge Gene Zmuda asked her what she had learned during her months in the women's prison. Hairston responded, "Life skills."
"I learned what it takes to have a healthy relationship with your children," she said. "At the price of freedom, I learned you have to take charge of your own life."
Hairston was charged in the death of her 23-month-old son, Tayvon Evans, who died as a result of long-term abuse by her then-boyfriend, Mitchell Moore, 22. Moore entered an Alford plea Sept. 25 to one count each of involuntary manslaughter, felonious assault, and felony child endangering and was sentenced to 18 years in prison.
According to an autopsy report, the toddler died Dec. 26, 2007, as a combined result of dehydration, sepsis as a result of E-coli in his blood stream, and an internal infection cause by a laceration in his bowels. He also had cuts on his wrists, a significant burn on his leg, and bruising, lacerations, and injuries on his head, chest, and back.
Judge Zmuda acknowledged Hairston didn't inflict the injuries. But he reminded her that she failed to do anything to protect him.
"You had the ability to stop it. You controlled the destiny of all three of your children, especially Tayvon," he said. "That's why you went to prison."
The judge said a report of Hairston's time in prison showed she took advantage of several programs and kept her "nose clean." He placed her on her on five years' probation, including six months in the Correctional Treatment Facility, and requested a mental health evaluation.
Judge Zmuda said Hairston would return to prison if she violates conditions of her release.
Attorney Myron Duhart said Hairston suffered from self-esteem issues that eventually led the loss of all three of her children. One child is in the custody of the biological father while another has been placed in foster care, he said.
He said that she will continue to suffer those losses and hopes that she will work to change her life out of prison.
"I don't believe she ever intended to cause any harm to her child," Mr. Duhart said. "She is remorseful and she will always live with this the rest of her life."