Judge Upholds Previous Judge’s Decision to Dismiss Again a Child Endangerment Charge for Woman Who Didn’t Report Infant Death

By Fiona Davis

WOODLAND, CA – A Yolo County Superior Court judge ruled in favor of a defendant charged in connection to the physical assault of a toddler and death of an infant, as the presiding judge ruled to dismiss the defendant’s previous child endangerment charge—a charge that had already been dismissed once before.

After the preliminary hearing of Annette Womack, who had been previously charged with both child endangerment and accessory to a felony, ended with the court ruling to dismiss the charge of child endangerment, the prosecution looked to appeal the decision.

However, in his review of the preliminary, Judge Tom Dyer concluded the previous court’s decision was based on substantial evidence, and granted the continued dismissal of the charge.

Both the dismissed and current charges of the defendant stem from the alleged crimes of Womack’s son, 43-year-old Derrick Dimone Woods.

In late Feb., Woods was arrested in connection to the death of his then-girlfriend’s infant daughter and the physical assault of her three-year-old son. The infant and the young boy were found in a West Sacramento motel room, where the children’s mother had left them in the company of Woods.

On the day in question, after receiving a call from her son, Womack is said to have met Woods at the motel, where she observed the infant “deceased from traumatic injuries,” and the toddler injured. She did not make any attempts to call the police.

After approximately half an hour, she left the motel and sat in her car, where she waited for Woods to arrive before driving away from the area.

After a day-long “regionwide manhunt,” Woods was found and taken into custody. He was charged with several felonies, including numerous murder charges that allege Woods committed “torture” in the infant’s death.

In the days that followed Woods’ capture, Womack was arrested under suspicion of aiding and abetting her son, and was subsequently charged.

During Womack’s preliminary hearing, the charge of child endangerment was dismissed when the judge determined—based on testimony given by both the surviving child and a witness to the event—that the harming of the children had occurred prior to the defendant’s arrival at the motel.

However, the prosecution looked to appeal this decision during last week’s hearing.

After the defendant struggled for several minutes to connect to the court’s video conference last week, Womack attended remotely through speaker phone.

At the beginning of the hearing, Defense Attorney Rob Gorman held a cell phone to a microphone in order for the defendant to make her presence known, as her attendance in court is a condition to her remaining out on bail.

Gorman argued that the evidence presented in the preliminary hearing undeniably showed the crimes committed against the children had occurred before Womack had arrived at the motel, limiting her involvement to only being “present at the crime scene.”

Moreover, he stated that the defendant did not meet the requirements for a child endangerment charge, saying that the crime requires “an element of care or custody of the child” that Womack did not have.

Gorman said the district attorney’s charges against the defendant were influenced by the emotional response a crime against children elicits. “[Their] judgment is clouded by the fact that these were two terribly young and completely defenseless children that were, one killed, and one injured” Gorman stated.

Gorman then emphasized that a moral judgment of the defendant’s actions is separate from a legal judgment.

“Morally, that is probably reprehensible. But legally, under the law, that does not make Ms. Womack guilty,” Gorman stated. “That’s how the judge ruled after the evidence of the preliminary hearing, and that’s what I’m asking this court to do today.”

In the prosecution’s counter-argument, Deputy District Attorney Rachel Diamond Raymond said that the charge of child endangerment does not require custody or care of the child, and can be sustained by evidence of a person willfully causing or permitting a child to suffer unjustifiable mental or physical pain or suffering. She also stated that “actual harm” is not required.

Considering these alternative qualifications for the criminal charge, Raymond argued that the young boy “could have suffered more by being left alone with his dead sister and the person who killed her,” risking further emotional or physical harm to the toddler.

“I do think Ms. Womack” … “commit[ed] criminal negligence when she left [him] alone,” Raymond stated.

Judge Dyer upheld the previous judge’s ruling based on the evidence, “and therefore must be upheld.” With this, Judge Dyer ruled in favor of the defense, with a motion to dismiss the charge of child endangerment.

About The Author

Fiona Davis considers herself to be a storyteller, weaving and untangling narratives of fiction and nonfiction using prose, verse, and illustrations. Beyond her third-year English studies at UC Davis, she can be seen exploring the Bay Area, pampering her cats and dogs, or making a mess of paint or thread or words in whatever project she’s currently working on.

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