YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — A woman charged with the death of her 2-month-old son due to an “unsafe sleeping environment” was placed on probation Friday for two years.
Judge John Durkin gave the sentence to Ashley Williams, 33, of Austintown, who pleaded guilty in April in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court to a charge of reckless homicide for the July 22 death of her son, Dalvin Williams.
The Mahoning County Coroner’s Office ruled the baby’s death accidental but said an “unsafe sleeping environment” contributed to his death.
A grand jury indicted Williams in March 2022 on charges of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment for the child’s death. The endangerment charge was dropped in exchange for her plea.
Assistant Prosecutor Caitlyn Andrews did not offer a sentencing recommendation and “stood silent,” which Judge Durkin said is the first time he can remember her doing that in his courtroom.
Walter Madison, Williams’ attorney, asked for a sentence of probation. He said his client’s risk of reoffending is low because she has a job and family support.
A presentence report in the case also recommended probation and counseling.
Madison also said a probation sentence will enable Williams to continue counseling, which he said is starting to help her now. Madison said no sentence the court gives can punish Williams more than the guilt she feels for having her son die.
“Reckless is a very bad accident in my opinion,” Madison said. “And that’s exactly what this was, with a horrible outcome.”
Williams’ husband also asked Judge Durkin not to send her to prison.
“This was a very tragic thing,” he said.
Williams, wiping tears from her eyes and speaking in a low voice that was barely audible, said she thinks daily about what happened to her son.
“I don’t go a day without the thought of him, thinking about maybe what I could have done differently,” she said as Madison held a hand on her shoulder.
Judge Durkin said he did not believe Williams deserved to go to prison.
“There is nothing I can do in terms of sentencing that can impact you more than you have already suffered,” Judge Durkin said. “I view you as a defendant and a victim.”
Judge Durkin said he believes Williams would benefit from counseling. He ordered her to obtain counseling and report back regularly with updates on how the counseling is progressing.