Women bound over to circuit courty in child drowning

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — The two women charged in the 2012 drowning death of a 5-year-old boy at a Dearborn hotel were bound over for trial in Third Circuit Court.

Cheneka Gardner, 28, of Detroit, and Wilma Jean Gissantaner, 51, of Detroit appeared before 19th District Court Judge William Hultgren Friday for their preliminary examinations of the evidence against them.

Gardner is charged with involuntary manslaughter and second-degree child abuse, which carry maximum penalties of 15 and four years in prison, respectively.

Gissantaner faces the same charges but will also be charged as a habitual offender because she has a prior conviction on her record
from 2011 for felonious assault. The habitual offender charge will cause the possible maximum penalties to be 1.5 times their normal amounts.

Hultgren ruled there was enough probable cause evidence presented to bind over the defendants on all of the charges and they will both appear in Third Circuit Court for their arraignments at 9 a.m. Nov. 1.

Bonds for both women were continued, with Gardner free on a $2,500 10 percent bond and Gissantaner free on a $10,000 personal bond.

The charges stem from the death of Javion Rucker-Todd, 5, who drowned in the pool of the former Hyatt Regency during a birthday party held for Gardner’s daughter on Oct. 5, 2012. Rucker-Todd was deaf and could not speak.

According to police reports, the women were watching approximately 15 children in the pool during the party and were in the hot tub area when the incident took place.