Md. Man, 25, Says Toddler Died After Wrestling With Him
By Matt Zapotosky
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
A 25-year-old Waldorf man told authorities that a 3-year-old boy died after a wrestling match between them. Sheriff’s officials said Tuesday that they charged the man with first-degree child abuse.
Myron Antonio Gibson was arrested Monday after he told detectives he believed he caused the death of his girlfriend’s son, DeSean Tyrese Wade, while wrestling, said Diane Richardson, a spokeswoman for the Charles County Sheriff’s Office. Gibson told detectives he elbowed the boy about 10 times in the back, and at some point, DeSean fell forward and struck his forehead, she said.
A preliminary medical examiner’s report showed that DeSean — who was found unconscious Aug. 19 in a Waldorf townhouse and later taken to a hospital and pronounced dead — had a fractured rib, bleeding on his back and head, and swelling of his brain, Richardson said. Gibson was with the boy when he fell unconscious and instructed other children in the home in the 3000 block of Heathcote Road to call 911, she said.
Gibson lived in the home with DeSean’s mother, Reshonda Deon Wade, and DeSean sometimes stayed with them, Richardson said. Gibson has not been charged with a more serious offense because the medical examiner has not ruled DeSean’s death a homicide, Richardson said.
DeSean’s father, Dennis Theodore Wade, said he had contacted the sheriff’s office in May after he noticed a mark on his son’s buttocks. He said a sheriff’s detective investigated for about three weeks but told him there was not enough evidence to charge anyone. Richardson confirmed the investigation.
Wade said a Prince George’s County social services employee advised him not to let his son stay with his mother, but he felt he was legally obligated to let her see DeSean. He and Reshonda Wade are legally married and did not have a formal custody agreement, and she had not been charged with a crime, Dennis Wade said.
“I had a suggestion, but not an order,” Wade said.
In a written statement, Maryland Department of Human Resources Secretary Brenda Donald said that after DeSean’s father contacted police May 30, child welfare workers and family members “agreed to a safety plan that would keep the child away from the home in which the alleged abuse occurred.” The written safety plan, she said, apparently was not followed. (and isn’t it the Maryland Department of Human Resources (cps) responsibility to make sure that the safety plan is followed???)
Donald also said in a statement that in 2004 and 2005, the Prince George’s County Department of Social Services provided “in-home services” after the other children who stayed there were left unsupervised. That case was closed in 2006.
But the trouble apparently continued. In early August, Gibson was charged with first-degree assault after he allegedly threw Reshonda Wade into some trash cans, then tried to drive away with her on the hood of his car, court records show. Gibson was released on bail, and those charges are pending.
Dennis Wade said that after that incident Reshonda Wade assured him Gibson would not be allowed around their son. “She let him back in the house, and now my son is dead,” Wade said.
Reshonda Wade did not return a phone message left with a friend seeking comment. No one answered the door at her home.
Gibson first told detectives that he tried to perform CPR on DeSean after finding him unconscious in his bed, Richardson said. On Saturday — after the medical examiner found DeSean’s injuries were consistent with abuse — detectives interviewed Gibson again and he talked of the wrestling match, she said.
Efforts to reach Gibson’s family members were unsuccessful. He was ordered held without bond Tuesday.
Wade, 45, of Woodbridge, described his son as a curious and loving boy who would accompany him on contract construction jobs. Wade said he gave his son a small board that he could hoist over his shoulder so he could mimic his father.
“I could tell him, ‘Go get Daddy’s hammer, go get Daddy’s measuring tape, go get that level,’ ” Wade said. “That’s all he just wanted to do, is help.”
After DeSean’s death, the three other children who sometimes stayed in the house with Reshonda Wade were moved elsewhere, Richardson said.
Staff researcher Meg Smith contributed to this report.