Mom in jail as 2-year-old son takes final breath after drowning incident

Published: Oct. 17, 2022 at 9:59 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The Richmond County Coroner’s Office confirms a 2-year-old died Monday night after falling into a family friend’s pool on Sunday.

The incident occurred on the 3400 block of Merrimac Avenue.

Justus Hyman was pronounced dead at 5:50 p.m. on Monday after being transported to the Augusta University Medical Center.

His mom, Domonique Murray, 36, is charged with child cruelty in the second degree.

She was not able to be there with him as he took his last breaths. We spoke with the family who is in disbelief.

Demetrius Miller, Murray’s mom. “My daughter is a great mother, and I am so distraught by the system because I felt like it failed her,” said Demetrius Miller, Murray’s mom.

Her daughter had just returned from her honeymoon. She was over at a family friend’s house on Merrimac Avenue with two of her children when they couldn’t find Justus, or Baby J, as they called him.

Katrima Smalley is Murray’s aunt. She said, “No one knew he had walked out the door. There’s no lock on the door. So, some kind of way he got out. We’re not sure how because we don’t have all the details. They started looking around the house for him because they thought he was in the house playing.”

The incident report calls the case accidental. It says Hyman attempted to go outside first, and they told him to stay inside.

The report says when they weren’t looking, the toddler went outside without them knowing, and they found him in the pool

“Yes, it’s an accident. And it’s horrible, but I don’t feel she should be charged with child cruelty. I don’t think she should be in jail at all because accidents do happen,” she said.

Once the deputy got on the scene, the report says the mother was performing CPR on her child.

Our I-TEAM found no criminal background for Murray. Her family says she’s a wonderful mother to three children, who’s never been arrested. Until now.

Miller said: “They have her locked up. She was not allowed to come to see her son leave this world.”

Now, along with grief, they’re feeling something else. Injustice that feels black and white.

As they draw comparisons to a case in Burke County, where a private, White pool instructor was not charged for the accidental drowning of a Black student in her care.

“Lexy Thompson. She hasn’t been charged with anything. Their child died in her care. This is injustice,” said Smalley.

Coroner Mark Bowen says an autopsy has been scheduled. We’ve reached out to the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office to see if they plan to upgrade her charges.

Domonique Murray
Domonique Murray(WRDW)