FLINT TOWNSHIP and FLINT, Michigan — Two-year-old Ti’Airra Woodward was bitten, tortured and beaten to death after wetting the bed, according to accusations levied against her father in two separate court hearings Wednesday.
Police found the girl not breathing at a Flint Township home Sunday morning, covered in bruises and adult human bite marks. She died of internal bleeding from a lacerated liver, according to the medical examiner’s office.
Donovan L. Haynes told police he bit his daughter in the leg Sunday because she wet the bed, authorities said in a Genesee County Probate Court hearing to terminate his parental rights for Ti’Airra’s half sister.
The hearing was held as Haynes stood in chains in another courtroom, being arraigned on an open charge of murder and charges of first-degree child abuse, torture and felony murder.
Haynes, 20, of Flint faces up to life in prison if convicted. He is being held without bond in the Genesee County Jail.
Haynes said little during the hearing, which was delayed briefly when deputies had to eject two juveniles following a outburst between members of Ti’Airra’s maternal and paternal families.
Family members of Ti'Airra Woodward react after the arraignment of Donovan L. Haynes at the 67th District Court in downtown Flint on Wednesday. Haynes was charged with murder and torture of his two-year-old daughter Ti'Airra.
Donovan Lamar Haynes Arraignment gallery (5 photos)
“It’s really sad that this happened to that little girl,” said Ti’Airra’s maternal great-grandfather, William A. Woodward, after the arraignment. “She was a sweet little girl. I can’t even imagine why. ...
“It hurts,” he said, fighting back tears. “It hurts.”
Members of Haynes’ family declined comment.
Ti’Airra’s death was one of two beatings Sunday involving 2-year-old children in Genesee County.
Hours after Ti’Airra’s lifeless body was found, a 2-year-old boy living six miles away in Flint was found severely beaten in an unrelated case.
Michael Wilkerson Jr. was taken from an apartment on Yorkshire Drive in critical condition Sunday night after neighbors heard the child’s screams and called 911. Police found severe injuries to his back, legs and head.
The boy was listed in critical condition Sunday but is expected to recover, police said.
A boy plays outside the apartment where a 2 year-old was critically beaten on Sunday at River Park Town Houses complex in Flint.
Michael Levell Wilkerson, 37, and Gwendolyn Lorraine Thomas, 25, both of Flint, were charged Wednesday with first-degree child abuse in the critical beating of Wilkerson’s son.
Wilkerson and Thomas could face up to 15 years in prison.
“It is a very sad and tragic set of circumstances for my office to be called upon to review two separate police reports in one day involving the assault of two young children, each 2 years of age and each being the victim of their very own father,” said Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton.
A memorial for Ti’Airra was set up at her day care on Lippincott Road.
“She had a smile that would light up a room,” said Sha-Rayle Young, who works at the day care. “She always was dressed nice and had her hair pretty. She had lots of friends here. She was friendly with everybody, and she was always hugging everyone and saying bye when she left.”
Young, 19, said she was shocked to hear what happened and never saw signs of abuse.
“She was always perky,” Young said.
Haynes’ parental rights were terminated in the probate court hearing.
A 2-year-old girl with signs of being abused was pronounced dead Sunday after being found not breathing Sunday at a home on Donal Drive in Flint Township, according to police. Efforts to resuscitate the girl were unsuccessful and she was pronounced dead at Hurley Medical Center.
Calvin Randolph said he knew something was wrong when he returned home from church and saw police cars outside the home next door on Donal Drive in Flint Township.
“It hurt when I heard,” said Randolph.
After observing what police called signs of child abuse on Ti’Airra’s body, detectives began investigating the death as a homicide, said Flint Township police Chief George Sippert.
“Whatever happened, it’s tragic because a child is gone,” said Randolph.
“I’ve seen her out playing. It’s very sad.”
Randolph, a pastor at New Day Ministries in Flint, was shocked to hear that police said bite marks found all over the girl’s body came not from a dog but from a human.
“It’s shocking,” he said. “Dogs — that’s tragic, but human bites ... that’s savage.”
He said he’d never heard any commotion coming from the home in the past.
“This is a good neighborhood,” said Randolph, 50, gesturing toward spacious houses and well-manicured lawns along the street. “It’s not a bad neighborhood. People take care of their families and their homes. This is not ordinary here.”
Neighbors at the scene of the Flint beating, in a low-income housing complex full of boarded-up windows and grassy sidewalks, said disturbing screams coming from one of the apartments led them to call 911 that evening.
Deborah Dash said she and other residents of River Park Town Houses near Carpenter Road and North Dort Highway listened for a short while to be sure of what they were hearing, then called for help.
Children’s Protective Services personnel soon arrived, and the child was taken to a hospital, said Dash.
Deborah Dash of Flint talks about the beating of a 2-year-old boy left in critical condition Sunday at River Park Town Houses. She and other concerned neighbors called for help after hearing the boy's screams.
“I hope he pulls through,” she said.
She said she heard loud cracks, followed by the boy’s screams, over and over again.
“Everybody took the proper steps,” Dash said. “Everybody was concerned about the little boy.”
The boy had fresh and old injuries to his back, leg and ear, according to police, who were called to the hospital that night.
“I feel that little boy didn’t have to go through what he went through. I have kids myself, and it’s just a shame,” said Dash, a mother of four and a grandmother of one.
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