Brooklyn Mom Gets 18 Years in Prison for Drowning Daughter to Discipline Her

A 28-year-old mother from Brooklyn, New York was recently sentenced to 18 years in prison for drowning her 2-year-old daughter four years ago.

Lin Li was convicted of manslaughter and two counts of acting in a manner injurious to a child for the death of her daughter, Melody Zheng, in June 2019, however, she was acquitted of second-degree murder, according to Daily Mail.

In her sentencing, Li’s defense lawyer Mario Romano brought up his client’s “tough upbringing” in China and her deplorable living conditions in Sunset Park in Brooklyn. He further said that the mother, her husband, and their two children lived in an apartment where they had to share the bathroom with a dozen other occupants.

Described as a “loving, caring mother” by her attorney, Romano said she “blames herself every day for what happened.”

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“I did not see the actions of a monster in what I read,” Romano added.

“I would like to say being a mom, it is my duty to take care of my children, and I really regret my daughter’s death,” Li said through a translator as she addresses the court in tears. “It was my mistake…losing my daughter is very, very painful to me.”

Speaking directly to Kings County Supreme Court Judge Deborah Dowling, Li said, “no matter how much time you’re going to send me to jail [for]… I will accept it.”

In addition to her conviction of manslaughter, Li was also found guilty of first-degree attempted assault for holding her 4-year-old son’s head underwater just a day before killing her daughter, Melody.

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“This defendant had a duty to care for her children and to keep them safe, but instead she used inexplicable and dangerous methods to discipline them – and caused the violent death her daughter,” Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said in a statement. “Nothing can bring back little Melody, who had an entire life ahead of her. But, with today’s sentence, we have obtained a measure of justice in this terribly tragic case.”

Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney Roger McCready initially pushed Li to face 25 years for manslaughter and 10 years for the assault, making it a total of 35 years in prison, New York Post reported. However, the judge only sentenced Li for 18 years, which she will serve concurrently.

The fatal incident happened on March 13, 2016 when Li took Melody into a bathroom to discipline her after she wet herself. Li submerged the child’s head in a plastic container filled with water until the child stopped struggling. She then walked out of the bathroom without ever checking on her daughter. She later called 911.

Her husband, who was reportedly asleep when it happened, was performing CPR on the girl when the police arrived in their family’s home. They took the child to Maimonides Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

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Both Li’s children had been living with their grandparents in China before they joined their parents in the apartment just weeks before Melody’s death, the New York Times reported at the time.

A videotaped interview by law-enforcement officers shows Li admitting to pushing her daughter’s head underwater and leaving the room, but during her testimony in her own defense in June 2019, she denied holding the child’s head as a form of punishment for wetting herself, New York Daily News reported last year. She also denied the allegations that she plunged her son’s head under water to discipline him.

“If I didn’t leave that bathroom, then my daughter would not have died,” Li said.

However, during the closing argument, McCready played the video of Li’s interview to the jury where she admitted to holding her daughter’s head underwater and saw bubbles coming out of the child’s mouth.

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