Drunken Minneapolis mom charged in toddler's death

  • Article by: ABBY SIMONS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 21, 2012 - 9:20 PM

2-year-old girl was on life support for nearly three weeks.

A young mother has been charged with murder for allegedly drowning her toddler in the bathtub of her northeast Minneapolis apartment after a day of binge drinking.

Deqa Mohamed Yusuf, 23, was charged Tuesday with second-degree intentional murder in the drowning of the 2-year-old girl, who died June 17 after nearly three weeks in intensive care at Hennepin County Medical Center.

Initial charges of attempted murder and first-degree assault were amended after the girl died.

Witnesses said they heard Yusuf tell her mother of plans to drown her two children and then kill herself, but did not take them seriously.

According to the charges, police were called just before midnight on May 31 to Yusuf's apartment in the 1900 block of NE. 2nd Street, where people in the hallway directed them to Yusuf hunched over the toddler, screaming, "My daughter is dead!"

As police began performing CPR on the girl, Yusuf tried to pull officers away and take the toddler from them. The charges said that she smelled of alcohol, had bloodshot eyes and was incoherent except when referring to a bathtub.

Police noted that the girl was dry but also saw that the tub was filled almost to the top. Yusuf told police that she had returned from a bachelor party and was giving the girl a bath when she saw she had defecated in the tub.

She went to get something to clean her up and when she returned, she said, the toddler was not breathing.

A neighbor said she called 911 when she heard Yusuf screaming "Please help me!" and that her child was dead. She said that she and Yusuf had gone to the liquor store at about 10 that morning and that Yusuf had bought a couple bottles.

A second witness said she was with Yusuf until about 10 p.m. after spending much of the day there trying to protect the children from their intoxicated mother.

She said she went with Yusuf to a couple of liquor stores at 7 p.m. while the children slept, and that Yusuf drank on the walk back.

The witness said she cleaned up both the children, clothed them and fed them before leaving. She told police that she heard Yusuf telling her mother over the phone that she intended to kill the children by drowning them and then commit suicide. She said she had heard such threats before but didn't believe Yusuf would carry them out. When she left, there was no water in the bathtub and the children were dressed and watching TV.

A third witness said she also had tried to help with Yusuf's children and had seen her hit the 3-year-old several times. She said she had also heard Yusuf threaten to harm herself or her children.

According to the charges, a review of child protection records found that a petition filed in January referred to Yusuf's chronic alcohol use and inability to care for the children. While in the hospital waiting for a blood draw on the night of the drowning, Yusuf allegedly said, "Judge says I can drink as long as my kids aren't with me" and "I had, like, three margaritas and, like, four beers tonight."

Yusuf, who was arrested June 1, remains in the Hennepin County jail in lieu of $500,000 bail. Her next court appearance is July 9.

Abby Simons • 612-673-4921

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