An Akron mother apologized to a Summit County judge for her profanity-laced outburst in court after she was sentenced to prison for the death of her 2-year-old daughter — and begged to be released early.
“As a mother even as numb as I am I have two boys I have to care for,” Tierra Williams said in a recent handwritten letter to Summit County Common Pleas Judge Alison McCarty. “They are the only thing that’s keeping me going in here. And given the chance I will walk a straight line.”
Both Williams and Dariaun Parker, the father of Wynter Parker, have requested an early release after serving about two months in prison for the death of Wynter, who was found unresponsive in the cold last February. The couple, who are no longer together, pleaded guilty in November to child endangering, a third-degree felony that carries up to three years in prison.
McCarty sentenced Williams to 18 months and Parker to two years in prison on Jan. 25.
The prison sentences sparked outrage among many in the community who questioned whether this penalty was warranted for the parents who already were suffering from the loss of their daughter.
Because Williams, 23, was sentenced to less than two years, she was eligible to apply for an early release as soon as she arrived in prison. Parker, 25, must serve six months in prison before he’s eligible to be released.
Williams found Wynter unconscious Feb. 2, 2018, outside the family’s Willow Run apartment near the Goodyear Air Dock and made a frantic call to 911. Williams, who was pregnant at the time, told police that she left Wynter with Parker for about two hours while she was out with their 4-year-old son.
Parker, who had been up the night before, fell asleep and lost track of Wynter on a day when Akron’s temperatures were below 19 degrees.
The attorneys for Williams and Parker urged McCarty to consider probation, while prosecutors pushed for prison time.
McCarty said the couple found themselves in a dysfunctional situation, with Parker up all night recording music in a studio and Williams working during the day cutting clients’ hair at their homes and unable to take their two young children with her. She said she was particularly bothered by how the police had been called by neighbors several times when Wynter and her brother were left unattended.
McCarty said she would consider releasing both parents from prison early.
When Williams heard she was going to prison, she screamed, “That is so f----- up!” and "I'm so f------ mad!"
Tierra Williams said in her letter to McCarty that she reacted angrily because she was overwhelmed and she knew this would take her away from her sons. Her mother is caring for the boys while she and Parker are in prison.
“Since I lost my daughter my boys have not left my side,” she said. “The thought of me being taken away from them was hard.”
Kani Hightower, Williams’ attorney, noted in the early request motion that Williams has had no prison infractions and pointed to her lack of a criminal history or threat to society and low recidivism risk.
Patricia Cosgrove, a visiting judge sitting in for McCarty, had a hearing this week about Williams’ request.
Assistant Prosecutor Cletus Pulliam told Cosgrove he thinks Williams filed her request too soon and should serve at least six months in prison.
“This is a serious offense,” said Cosgrove, a retired Summit County judge. “It’s hard to determine what she knew or didn’t know.”
Hightower said Williams left Wynter alone with Parker and wasn’t there when the girl escaped and went outside.
Cosgrove said she will take Williams’ request under advisement.
“I just hope the judge will consider it and allow her to come home to her children,” Hightower said.
Parker has not yet had a hearing on his early release request. Paul Grant, Parker’s attorney, said in the release request that Parker will “focus on changing his work and sleep patterns to match his children’s needs.”
“If he could turn back time, he would absolutely have made better judgments to ensure the safety of his child,” Grant said.
Numerous family members, colleagues and friends of Parker sent letters to McCarty, urging her to consider granting him an early release.
Among them was Darrita Davis, an organizer with the Akron Organizing Collaborative, who said Parker has worked for the organization for two years and has worked hard to “make sure that young people in the community are civically engaged.”
“Dariaun Parker is a great man with so much to offer the city of Akron,” Davis said.
Other supporters called Parker good, kind-hearted, loving, respectful, intelligent, driven and honest.
“I don’t feel as if taking him away from the other children and the family is something that he or they deserve in this time of need,” wrote Jalen Faircloth, one of Parker’s cousins.
Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705, email@example.com and on Twitter: @swarsmithabj.