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Clinton Township

March 11, 2013

Grandmother found guilty in grandson's death

By Nico Rubello
C & G Staff Writer

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — A jury on March 11 found a woman responsible for the drowning death of her grandson in January 2010 in her Clinton Township apartment.

Terry Rita Borgia, 63, was found guilty of felony murder for the death of 4-year-old DeAngelo Tobia, who investigators found was drowned in his grandmother’s bathtub at Clinton Place apartments. She was babysitting the boy at the time.

Borgia has resided in jail for more than three years since her arrest. This was the fourth trial in the case, though two of which ended for legal reasons before jury deliberations.

The prosecution pointed to the fact that Terry Borgia didn’t call 911 and refused to help try to resuscitate the boy. Assistant Macomb County Prosecutor William Cataldo said during the trial that Borgia was guilty by virtue of “her words, her actions and her inactions.”

But defense attorney Mark Haddad has consistently contended that she is covering for her youngest daughter, Tonina Borgia, who was the only other person in the apartment at the time of the drowning.

Terry Borgia also was convicted of child abuse. An alternate charge of involuntary manslaughter was dismissed.
Haddad said following the verdict that he was disappointed with the jury’s decision.

“I don’t think the jury understood the case,” he said. “I don’t think they appreciated the extreme sacrifice this woman (Terry Borgia) was willing to make.”

Tonina Borgia, 28, was found in contempt of court on March 7 after failing to show up for her testimony. Instead, her testimony from a December trial — which ended in a hung jury — was read aloud in court.

Terry Borgia did not testify in the trial. Haddad said he feared that she was liable to admit guilt on the stand to cover for her daughter, who was 25 years old when the drowning was committed.

Investigators never charged Tonina Borgia, saying the evidence pointed to her mother. Terry Borgia told police officers on several occasions that she had been the one to fill the tub with water and place her grandson, fully clothed and sleeping, in it.

Haddad said he will advise Borgia to appeal the verdict.

A felony murder charge carries a mandatory life sentence in prison. A sentencing is scheduled for April 17.