Dayton woman who left toddler to die sentenced to maximum

A Dayton woman who pleaded guilty in connection to leaving her 1-year-old to die in an apartment was sentenced Friday to at least 11 years in prison.

Wanisha Smith, 35, was sentenced after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter and endangering children. Prosecutors said that on June 9, 2020, authorities were called to an apartment on North James H. McGee Boulevard for a welfare check. Once they went into the apartment, the young child was found dead and in an advanced state of decomposition, a prosecutor’s sentencing memorandum says.

Prosecutors said Smith was found by police and interviewed and she told them on May 16, 2020, she got drunk with friends and picked up her child from a babysitter at around 2 a.m.

“Defendant walked home with (the child) and carried him to the room with the pack-n-play where defendant says she tripped while holding her child and hit his head on the corner of a chair hard enough that she knew it knocked him out,” the memorandum says.

The memorandum says the child would not wake up and Smith laid with him for about three hours before placing him in the pack-n-play. The memorandum says the child was struggling to breathe but his stomach was moving.

“At which time she called a friend to pick her up and walked out on (the child).; leaving him to die. Defendant admits that she knew this would be the outcome,” the memorandum says.

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Prosecutors said much about the circumstances around the child’s death is still unknown including how much the child suffered before dying.

“This defendant, Wanisha Smith, committed the worst form of involuntary manslaughter imaginable. She left a defenseless child less than 2 years old alone to die,” Prosecutors said in the memorandum. “She acted in the most selfish manner possible. She had the means to call for help for her child and chose not to do so. Instead she walked away from her problem.”

In a sentencing memorandum of their own, the defense pointed out that Smith doesn’t have a previous felony record and has been an “exemplary inmate” while incarcerated. Smith has been in the Montgomery County Jail since June 2020.

“The defendant has shown extreme remorse for the events which led to the death of her child,” the memorandum says. “Miss Smith was forthright in stating to the police that she was in a drunken stupor during this period as a result of grieving the loss of her significant other. She has taken full responsibility for her actions.”

During sentencing, Smith told Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Mary Montgomery that she wished she could turn back time and make better decisions. She also said that she has other children and she hopes to be a part of their lives.

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