YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — The mother of a 2-year-old boy who police said died of severe injuries pleaded guilty Tuesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court to her role in her son’s death.
Sharday Bing-Dixon, 35, of Struthers, entered a guilty plea to charges of permitting child abuse and involuntary manslaughter, both first-degree felonies, before Judge Anthony D’Apolito.
Sentencing will be at 1:30 p.m. on May 12. She has been in the county jail since her arrest.
Prosecutors are recommending a sentence of 22 years in prison. Defense counsel is expected to argue for a 15-year sentence.
Bing-Dixon was not indicted by a grand jury until March 2020 for the Oct. 4, 2018, death of her son, Sebali Bing-Dixon, 2.
He was found not breathing in a home on West Dennick Avenue and later died at Akron Children’s Hospital’s main campus.
Also indicted was Bing-Dixon’s boyfriend, Derek Carter, 29, of Campbell.
The case took so long to indict because of the time it took the Summit County Coroner’s Office to complete the autopsy. Once that was finished, police had to serve a series of search warrants before they could take the case to a grand jury.
The autopsy found the child died of “catastrophic injuries” but police would not be more specific.
At the time, the lead investigator in the case, Detective Sgt. Chad Zubal, said in his over 20 years in law enforcement that the case is the worst form of child abuse he has ever seen.
Police knew early in the investigation that Sebali had been abused but they were not aware of the severity of the abuse until the autopsy was completed.
Carter pleaded guilty on Thursday to a second-degree felony charge of endangering children. He is expected to be sentenced on March 31. He has also been in jail since he was arrested.
Judge D’Apolito said that when Carter took his plea, it was found that Bing-Dixon was the “main offender” in the toddler’s death.
Assistant Prosecutor Caitlyn Andrews said Sebali had lacerations of his liver and internal injuries. Police found that the only two people present when he stopped breathing were Bing-Dixon and Carter, Andrews said.
Andrews and defense Rhys Cartwright Jones also came to an agreement that the permitting child abuse and involuntary manslaughter charges are separate offenses, which means that they were not part of the same course of conduct, which would allow Judge D’Apolito to sentence her for two separate crimes instead of one.
The 22-year sentence recommended by Andrews is the maximum sentence Bing-Dixon can receive.
Judge D’Apolito said he informed the attorneys during plea negotiations that he would not impose a sentence of fewer than 15 years.