Rock Hill grandmother gets probation in baby death

adys@heraldonline.comMarch 21, 2013 

— A Rock Hill grandmother was sentenced to probation Thursday after pleading guilty to unlawful neglect toward a child after her 2-month-old granddaughter suffocated last year.

Toni Chavis, 56, was charged two months after Jaylin Chavis died May 6. Toni Chavis’ boyfriend, Roger Bryson, was sentenced to 18 months in prison last month after pleading guilty to neglect and admitting he had been drinking at the time the baby was pinned under him on a loveseat.

Chavis had been given custody of the child after the S.C. Department of Social Services took the baby from Chavis’ daughter because the baby had drugs in its system at birth, 16th Circuit Deputy Solicitor Willy Thompson said in court Thursday.

However, Chavis did not tell DSS her boyfriend was living there and further gave the baby to Bryson to watch that day, Thompson said. Chavis saw the baby on the loveseat beneath Bryson but did not remove the child, Thompson said, then both Bryson and Chavis found the baby after she stopped breathing.

The couple called 911 and tried to render aid but the girl died.

The case was investigated by a Child Fatality Review team made up of the coroner’s office, prosecutors, social services officials and police. That team investigates all York County unnatural deaths of minors.

“We were able to prove this to be recklessness, not accidental,” Thompson said after court.

Prosecutors and Chavis’ lawyer, Leland Greeley, negotiated a plea agreement that would end with probation. Chavis, who did not speak in court, had no criminal record.

“This is a tragic matter that she will have to live with for the rest of her life – the loss of the child,” Greeley said.

Andrew Dys •  803-329-4065

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