Mother charged after boy nearly drowns

June 22, 2012 3:49:10 PM PDT
There are questions being raised about the near-drowning of a 7-year-old boy at a northwest Houston apartment complex. That boy is still hospitalized, and his mother is now in custody.

Police tell us brain scans are being done on the little boy to determine if he has any brain activity at this point. His mother is charged with injury to a child by omission, but police say it's not the first sign of any injuries that they found on Thursday.

Police say the pool at the Oakwood Gardens apartments on Antoine was ordered closed just Monday by a city inspector who found a vacuum pump not functioning. The gate was locked. Investigators say Linda Harden, though, lifted her 7-year-old son over the fence on Thursday and left him unattended. Police say he dove in the shallow end and struck his head.

Fil Waters with HPD said, "The mother put the child in harm's way because of a decision she made to give him access to the pool."

Detectives say the mother saw the boy floating a few moments later. She pulled the boy out and had to toss him over the fence, then get back to her apartment to call 911. He had extensive head injuries.

But doctors also found on the boy's body signs of much older, very severe injuries. Police say Harden, 33, admitted hitting him previously with several different objects as punishment for things he'd done.

"There are some markings on the body that would indicate that some kind of corporal punishment was applied, but not necessarily with just a hand," Waters said.

Police say the mother just moved to these apartments a few weeks ago from New Orleans. Her neighbors who had just met her and seen her interact with her four children say they are surprised by the charge against her.

"I wouldn't think that she would endanger her child," said neighbor Dora Byrum. "When I met her, she seemed like a real nice person."

Investigators tell us the boy has a history of mental illness, autism and seizures. They say he is still in critical condition at the hospital, being kept alive with assistance of medical support.

CPS held an emergency hearing Friday to get temporary custody of the boy and his three siblings.

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