Mother of drowned infant 'distraught'; child advocate calls for more program funding

Nov 16, 2017

A Rochester woman is due back in court Friday morning in connection with the death of her newborn son earlier this week.

Liz Riley, the attorney representing 25-year old Markiya Mitchell, tells WXXI News that her client is distraught, and she has yet to determine whether Mitchell's mental status will be a factor in her defense.

Rochester police say Mitchell admitted to intentionally drowning 10-day old Jeremiah in the bathtub.  Police say he was found unresponsive when officers arrived at the home at 31 Locust Street Monday afternoon. Mitchell has been charged with second degree murder.

Melanie Blow, a local representative of the national Stop Abuse Campaign, said evidence-based home visitation programs might have been able to prevent a tragedy like this.

"You can never look at any one case and say with absolute certainty if "X" had changed you'd  have "Y" as an outcome, but we know that on the whole these (programs) work. We know that if these programs were implemented broadly, we'd have much less child abuse."

Maternal Home Visiting programs are run by the state. Blow said her organization is calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature to provide more funding. She cited a study that showed only five percent of willing and eligible New York families have access to the services. 

Riley said Markiya Mitchell had one prior contact with Child Protective Services about a year ago. Mitchell has a 7-year old child who is now the care of family members.