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Terry Rita BORGIA





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Child abuse
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: January 11, 2010
Date of birth: 1949
Victim profile: Her grandson, DeAngelo Tobia, 4
Method of murder: Drowning
Location: Clinton Township, Macomb County, Michigan, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison without parole on June 12, 2013

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Clinton Township grandmother gets life in prison in child's drowning

By Christina Hall - Detroit Free Press

June 12, 2013

DeAngelo Tobia’s hair was black.

His eyes were blue. To his parents, Bashar and Amelia Alkasmikha, he is an angel — an angel who didn’t get justice in his forcible drowning more than three years ago.

“He made all our dreams come true. He was a perfect son,” Amelia Alkasmikha, 35, tearfully said before her mother, Terry Borgia, was sentenced to life in prison without parole today in Macomb County Circuit Court in DeAngelo’s 2010 death. “We still don’t really know what happened to you, but we still feel that grandma is covering up for her daughter.”

Gripped by tears, Bashar Alkasmikha, 34, agreed, telling the court that authorities don’t have the right person and “we just want justice for our son."

DeAngelo’s parents now believe the boy’s aunt, Tonina Borgia — the only other adult in the Clinton Township apartment when 4-year-old DeAngelo died — committed the crime. Prosecutors have said there is no evidence to charge her and that Terry Borgia admitted putting the sleeping, pajama-clad boy in her bathtub filled with water and left him unattended, but didn’t admit to drowning him.

Terry Borgia didn’t say what happened to DeAngelo when she spoke today during the emotional proceeding, simply telling her family that she loves them.

“I love all my children. I love DeAngelo very much,” she said, to which Bashar Alkasmikha said: “Tell us the truth.”

Terry Borgia then thanked everyone who handled her case.

The 64-year-old, jail-garb-clad grandmother had four trials — three of which ended in mistrials — before a jury convicted her of felony murder and first-degree child abuse in March.

Macomb County Circuit Judge Peter Maceroni, who handled the case the entire time, denied a defense motion for a new trial before sentencing Terry Borgia.

Maceroni said that in 23 years on the bench, this was “by far, the most difficult sentence I ever had to impose,” pausing several times during his comments.

Maceroni said there was no direct evidence, just circumstantial evidence. He said “although the jury saw it one way, case law says even if the court feels the other way, you can’t do anything about it.”

Defense attorney Mark Haddad said he took Maceroni’s comments to mean that the judge doesn’t believe Terry Borgia is guilty.

Haddad continues to believe Terry Borgia is covering for her daughter, Tonina Borgia, and that she has a good chance when her case is appealed.

DeAngelo’s parents said that during a jail visit, Terry Borgia mouthed or implied that it was Tonina Borgia, not her, who committed the crime.

After the sentencing, DeAngelo’s family said police should have arrested Terry and Tonina Borgia after DeAngelo’s death.

Amelia Alkasmikha said she wished her mother, who helped her deliver DeAngelo, said more about what happened during her sentencing, which brought a difficult end to the lengthy and unusual case.

“And now my mom’s going to prison for the rest of her life,” she said, adding: “We love our son. He’s our everything."


Grandmother found guilty in tot's drowning

But after 3 mistrials, boy's mom still has doubts about who killed her son

By Christina Hall - Detroit Free Press

March 12, 2013

After three mistrials, Amelia Alkasmikha welcomed a guilty verdict Monday in the drowning death of her 4-year-old son.

But Alkasmikha says doubts remain in her mind whether her mother, Terry Borgia -- who was convicted by a jury of felony murder and first-degree child abuse -- forcibly drowned the boy in a bathtub in her Clinton Township apartment three years ago or if it was her younger sister who committed the crime.

"At least my son got justice," Alkasmikha, 34, of Sterling Heights said by phone after the verdict in Macomb County Circuit Court. "I still would like to find out more information and find out who really did this because I'm confused about the whole thing."

Terry Borgia, 63, and her youngest daughter, Tonina Borgia, 28, were the only adults in their apartment when DeAngelo Tobia drowned by forcible submersion in January 2010, investigators said.

Terry Borgia told police she put the pajama-clad, sleeping boy in her bathtub filled with water and left him unattended, but didn't say she drowned him. She didn't call 911 and didn't help with CPR.

During the trial, defense attorney Mark Haddad contended that Terry Borgia was covering up for Tonina Borgia, who authorities said called 911 and performed CPR on the boy. She also told police six different stories about how the boy died, even implicating herself.

County prosecutors have said there was no evidence to charge Tonina Borgia, who failed to appear to testify for the prosecution during the trial last week. A transcript from her testimony at the last trial in December, which ended in a mistrial when the jury deadlocked, was read instead. In that testimony, Tonina Borgia said she didn't have anything to do with the drowning and denied that her mother was covering up for her.

Terry Borgia is to be sentenced April 17 to life in prison. The jury deliberated about six hours Friday and Monday after a three-day trial.

Terry Borgia showed no emotion when the verdict was read. She was remanded to the county jail without bond.

"We're satisfied with the jury's verdict. It's been a long time in the making," Assistant Prosecutor Bill Cataldo said.

But Haddad, who has represented Borgia through all four trials, said he was very disappointed.

"I'm sure the defendant is very disappointed even though she got her death wish," Haddad said. "Personally, I think (Terry Borgia's) innocent."

Haddad had told the jury during closing arguments that his client is "perfectly happy to fall on the sword to spare her daughter."

Haddad said he intends to file a motion for a new trial unless Terry Borgia convinces him otherwise after what he said was an inappropriate comment made by Cataldo during the prosecution's closing arguments. Cataldo had said if it were true that Borgia was covering up for her daughter, she would have pleaded guilty. The jury was instructed to disregard Cataldo's comment.

Alkasmikha said if her mother covered up for her sister, she should have said something.

"That's where it hurts the most," she said. "For me, I feel whatever has happened to my son, someone should be charged and should go to prison for the rest of their life. Now my mother's gonna be in there for life. I guess that's what she chose. We all know in our hearts she's covering up for her daughter."

Nonetheless, Alkasmikha said that she believes her mother should go to prison whether she killed her son or not because she was one of only two adults in the home when DeAngelo died.

Alkasmikha said that she thinks her sister should go to prison, too, but doesn't believe she will ever be charged.

Alkasmikha said she doesn't want to go through another trial with her mother.

"It's just too hard on us. It's just too hard on me, watching videos of Tonina talking, saying she killed my son and stuff; hearing my mom talk about my son. It's too painful to go through again."


Daughter testifies in defense of Terry Borgia in drowning of grandson

By Christina Hall - Detroit Free Press

March 8, 2013

Terry Borgia helped deliver her grandson DeAngelo Tobia in the hospital four years before she was accused of drowning him in a tub full of water in her Clinton Township apartment.

That’s what Vicki Borgia, one of Terry Borgia’s three daughters, told a Macomb County Circuit Court jury this morning during testimony on behalf of her mother, who is accused in DeAngelo’s death in 2010.

Vicki Borgia testified that she did not believe her 63-year-old mother killed DeAngelo, who was 4 years old when he died in January 2010.

She also testified that she believed someone else killed her nephew and that her mother was capable of taking responsibility to protect one of her sisters, Tonina Borgia.

Tonina and Terry Borgia were the only adults in the apartment when DeAngelo died. Tonina Borgia called 911 and performed CPR on her nephew.

The defense contends that Terry Borgia is covering up for Tonina Borgia, but the prosecution has said there is no evidence to charge Tonina Borgia.

Vicki Borgia testified that Terry Borgia was a good mother and grandmother and that her own children wanted to stay with her. She testified that Tonina Borgia had psychological problems and anger issues, was “off the wall” sometimes and called her mother a “white Nazi.”

She testified that Tonina Borgia confessed to her that she killed their nephew, but her sister wasn’t on her medications at the time of the admission while the two were riding in a car together around the summer of 2010.

When Vicki Borgia was asked if she thought that either her mother or Tonina Borgia would have been capable of killing her young nephew before the day he died, she said, “No, I don’t.”

Terry Borgia is charged with felony murder, first-degree child abuse and involuntary manslaughter in DeAngelo’s death. She did not testify.

Tonina Borgia was expected to testify for the prosecution on Thursday, but she failed to appear. The transcript from her testimony in the last trial, which ended in a mistrial in December when the jury deadlocked, was read for this jury.

This is the fourth trial for Terry Borgia after three mistrials.

Closing arguments are set for 1 p.m. with the jury expected to start deliberations this afternoon.


Mistrial declared in Clinton Township grandson drowning case

By Chad Selweski -

June 9, 2012

In a murder case that has taken many twists and turns, a sudden mistrial was declared on Friday in the judicial proceedings for a Clinton Township grandmother accused of drowning her 4-year-old son in a bathtub.

Macomb Circuit Judge Peter Maceroni reluctantly halted the first-degree murder trial for Terry Borgia after the attorneys in the case realized that the Clinton Township police erred by obtaining a search warrant under false pretenses. The warrant was used by a Clinton Township detective to obtain a jailhouse confession from Borgia, a recording of which had been played to the jury.

In the coming weeks, a special hearing will be conducted by Maceroni to determine how and why the police botched the warrant process. After that issue is resolved, the county Prosecutor’s Office will seek a new trial.

In the meantime, Maceroni will take under advisement a motion by defense attorney Mark Haddad to release Borgia from the Macomb County Jail on a personal bond and put her on a tether. Borgia, 62, has spent 18 months in a mental health facility and nearly a year in jail since the January, 2010 death of her grandson, DeAngelo Tobia.

Her oldest daughter told the judge she would gladly provide a home for her mother while she awaits a new trial.

“I have two daughters, ages 13 and 9, who love their grandma more than anything in the world. And they don’t want her to stay in the Macomb County Jail,” she said, trying to hold back tears. “This is ridiculous.”

While her daughters believe the drowning was an accident, Borgia has allegedly admitted several times to killing the boy.

The case has featured an unusual timeline: On Jan. 11, 2010, the drowning occurred while Borgia was babysitting the 4-year-old at her Clinton Township apartment, and Borgia was quickly arrested; she was initially deemed to be incompetent to stand trial and sent to a mental health facility; she was eventually diagnosed as capable of facing trial at a special judicial proceeding and an insanity defense was rejected; in February she pleaded no contest to the first-degree murder charge, though it brings a mandatory life sentence; about a month later, Borgia withdrew the plea; the trial finally began on Wednesday and, just two days later, came to a sudden halt.

Attorneys on both sides said the mistake made by the police came when Detective William Furno sought a warrant to photograph at the jail bruises on Borgia’s arms, which investigators believe show signs that the boy tried to fight his way free from her before he drowned.

In seeking the warrant, Furno said that the bruises were not detected at the crime scene. But the report from the forensic nurse on the scene had included photos of Borgia’s bruises and small lacerations on her fingers.

Furno used the opportunity to gain access to the suspect’s jail cell to conduct a 50-minute, taped interview that included a confession.

Maceroni will conduct a special hearing, probably in May, to determine whether the error was an “honest mistake,” as chief homicide prosecutor William Cataldo contends, or if it amounts to “reckless disregard for the truth” by Furno when he filed his warrant request.

The hearing will require the county to subpoena four Clinton Township detectives — three of whom are now retired — forensic nurse Gail Lippert, and a corrections officer at the jail who alerted Furno about the bruises.

In any event, Cataldo said the Prosecutor’s Office will seek a new trial and will not offer a plea bargain to Borgia. Without the jailhouse confession, he said the prosecution can still rely on testimony that the defendant admitted at various times that she “snapped” and committed the crime.

“She has never recanted,” Cataldo said. “The defense says she didn’t do it, but she’s never said that."


Clinton Township grandmother: Boy’s drowning was accident

By Jameson Cook - Macomb Daily

December 7, 2010

But Clinton Township woman also admits she ‘snapped,’ cop testifies

A Clinton Township woman accused of drowning her 4-year-old grandson told a police detective that she “snapped,” but in a seemingly conflicting statement she called the incident an “accident.”

“She stated that she snapped,” Clinton Township Detective William Furno testified Monday. “She continued to say it was an accident. She didn’t plan it.”

“She said she didn’t want people to think she did anything on purpose,” said Borgia’s defense attorney, Mark Haddad, referring to her recorded interview with Furno, during a preliminary examination in 41B District Court in Clinton Township.

Borgia, 61, was bound over to Macomb County Circuit Court in Mount Clemens by visiting Judge Herman Campbell on a charge of first-degree murder, or in the alternative, felony murder and child abuse, for the Jan. 11 “forced submersion” death of DeAngelo Tobia, 4, in the bathtub of her unit at Clinton Place Apartments while babysitting.

Borgia, who remains in custody, had been found mentally incompetent to assist in her defense but has regained competency following a stay in the state Center for Forensic Psychiatry. So her case will proceed.

Psychiatrists haven’t determined whether Borgia understood her actions were criminal. Based on that report, Haddad could seek an insanity defense. But even if she is found criminally responsible, Haddad could seek to have her examined by other psychiatrists for a possible insanity claim.

Two of Borgia’s daughters, Tonina Borgia and Vickie, who did not want her last name used, previously said their mother was depressed and suicidal in recent years after the death of her longtime husband but had been a good and loving mother and grandmother. She told Furno she was “under pressure” due to financial matters.

Haddad pointed out during the interview with Furno at the Macomb County Jail the day following the incident that Borgia seemed mixed up and repeated statements by Furno.

“The confused grandmother is parroting back what the officer tells her,” Haddad said.

During the recorded portion of the interview, Furno is the first to mention the incident wasn’t planned and was an accident, Haddad said.

But during questioning by assistant Macomb prosecutor William Cataldo, Furno said he asked the questions based on what she told him prior to the recorded interview. She told him, “It was an accident. I didn’t plan it,” he said.

When Furno and Detective Pete McKenzie arrived at the Macomb County Jail to take photos of scratches, bruises and abrasions on Borgia’s hands and arms, Borgia asked if they were her lawyers. She then mentioned it being an accident and not premeditated.

Haddad noted she repeated the question about who they were even after he had already identified himself and McKenzie, although Furno said she may have asked while she was being read — and was initializing — a Miranda statement form.

“We have a serious Miranda question in this case,” Haddad told the judge, although Haddad acknowledged the judge likely would bind over the case due to the lower standard, probable cause, compared to a trial.

“I just want to get it on the record,” he said.

Borgia indicated that the night before the incident, she, Tonina and DeAngelo watched the movie, “Sleeping Beauty.” Borgia slept with her grandson on the couch.

Borgia said she awoke between 6 and 7 a.m. Jan. 11 and carried a sleeping and pajamas-clad DeAngelo from the living room couch and placed him in the bathtub, which she had filled with water, according to the testimony of police Officer Preston Susalla, who talked to her shortly after police were called. Tonina Borgia was sleeping in the apartment at the time.

Borgia told another police officer shortly after the incident that after she placed DeAngelo in the bathtub, she went into the kitchen for about 25 minutes until Tonina awoke. Police were called at 7:14 a.m.

An autopsy report showed DeAngelo suffered facial abrasions, “compressed lips” and other injuries that indicate he was held under water, Cataldo said.

Cataldo said Borgia can be charged with first-degree, premeditated murder because during the alleged drowning she had time for a “second look,” to “reflect” on her actions.

“It’s a jury question,” he said.

Or jury members could convict of felony murder if they determine Borgia committed child abuse, he said.



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