Hunter Locke-Hughes, 22, was found guilty of first-degree child abuse and involuntary manslaughter
A Michigan man who was accused of killing his girlfriend's young son with special needs by drowning him in a bathtub has been found guilty for his role in the boy’s death.
On Monday, a Macomb County jury convicted Hunter Locke-Hughes, 22, of first-degree child abuse and involuntary manslaughter, according to a press release shared by the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office. Locke-Hughes was acquitted of a felony murder charge.
He is scheduled to be sentenced on March 13 and faces a life sentence for the felony child abuse charge and up to 15 years behind bars for the involuntary manslaughter offense.
Locke-Hughes, then 19, was accused of holding the 6-year-old boy — identified by family as Terrance “Terry” Adams and the son of his girlfriend — underwater as he was giving him a bath on Dec. 28, 2021. According to Macomb Daily, prosecutors said Locke-Hughes became upset because the boy was not cooperating during his bath and vomited after his mother left. Prosecutors also claimed Locke-Hughes held the boy down in at least six inches of water, per the outlet.
Terrance had reportedly been suffering from CHARGE syndrome, a genetic disorder which, according to the National Library of Medicine, is an abbreviation for “coloboma, heart defects, atresia choanae, growth retardation, genital abnormalities, and ear abnormalities.” According to Macomb Daily, citing prosecutors, the condition left the boy unable to talk, blind in one eye, and requiring a feeding tube.
An autopsy report stated Terrance had 15 to 20 bruises on his head, as well as more on his shoulder blades and back, which prosecutors believe were caused by the boy's fight to stay alive, Macomb Daily reports. In a later interview with police, Locke-Hughes allegedly confessed to holding the boy underwater by his shoulders but asserted that he kept the boy’s head above water using his fingers, prosecutors said per the outlet.
The defense argued that Terrance drowned on his own vomit during a six-minute period while Locke-Hughes was on the phone with the boy’s mother and 911. However, prosecutors said the drowning occurred before the call to Terrance’s mother was made, Macomb Daily reports. A medical examiner reportedly testified that the boy was likely dead by the time first responders arrived at the scene because paramedics had trouble opening his jaw.
According to The Detroit News, the medical examiner ruled that Terrance drowned but listed his manner of death as undetermined, citing how it was unclear as to how the boy got into the bathtub.
According to documents cited by The Detroit News and interviews with relatives, Terrance’s family had contacted CPS on several occasions after suspecting the boy was being abused while under the care of Locke-Hughes. Three CPS investigations were opened, but none resulted in any permanent changes, Macomb Daily also reported, citing family members.
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In court on Monday, Shannon Grabowsky, Terrance’s aunt, spoke on behalf of the boy’s father’s family saying they were grateful for the guilty verdict.
“We would have liked to see first-degree murder but we are happy that he will serve a long sentence, and he will have to endure some of the things that Terry went through,” Grabowsky said, according to Macomb Daily.
Locke-Hughes’ attorney, Dan Garon, also told Macomb Daily, that he plans to file an appeal on behalf of his client.
Grabowsky's GoFundMe page, which sought donations to help Terrance's father, Gary Adams, acquire legal representation for custody of his now 4-year-old daughter, Emmalynn, had garnered more than $2,700 as of Tuesday.
Terrance was remembered in his obituary as someone who "loved to spend time playing with his iPad and learning new things daily."
“Our commitment to protecting the innocent and seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society remains unwavering,” Macomb County Prosecutor Peter J. Lucido said in a statement. “I hope the family can find closure with this guilty verdict."
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