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Mom indicted on manslaughter charge in toddler’s La Plata death

Charles County investigators found Ji'Aire Donnell Lee unresponsive with no signs of life as his mother was pushing him in a park swing in May 2015. (Photo courtesy NBC Washington)

WASHINGTON — A grand jury in Charles County indicted a La Plata mother on multiple charges for the death of her 3-year-old son, who was found dead in a park swing in May.

Romechia Marie Simms, 24, is charged with manslaughter, first-degree child abuse and child neglect in the death of Ji’Aire Donnell Lee. She was arraigned Monday, according to the State’s Attorney’s Office for Charles County.

Simms spoke out in court before her defense attorney hushed her.

“I’m not a risk to anybody. I didn’t even mean for this to happen,” she said, according to Kristin Ayers, with the state’s attorney’s office.

But the judge set her bond at $150,000.

Simms told the judge she could only afford to pay a $1,500 bond. A jury trial is set to begin Jan. 25, 2016.

She faces 45 years in prison if convicted on all counts.

Officers found Simms pushing her dead son’s body when they were called to Wills Memorial Park on May 22. Investigators say Simms brought the boy to the park alive two days earlier and continued to push him until officers arrived, nearly 44 hours later.

The little boy died of dehydration and hypothermia, according to the Charles County Sheriff’s Office.

WTOP’s Megan Cloherty contributed to this report.

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