Clinton TownshipAugust 15, 2012
Second mistrial declared in Borgia murder case
By Nico Rubello
C & G Staff Writer
CLINTON TOWNSHIP — For the second time, a trial for a Clinton Township grandmother accused of drowning her 4-year-old grandson ended in a mistrial.
Terry Borgia, 63, is charged with first-degree murder for the January 2010 death of DeAngelo Tobia.
Investigators say Borgia drowned her grandson in the bathtub of her Clinton Township apartment. Borgia’ defense attorney, Mark Haddad, has suggested that she may be covering for an alternative culprit: her daughter, Tonina Borgia.
Haddad said the jury had already been selected when Judge Peter Maceroni declared a mistrial Aug. 8 because Tonina Borgia, who was set to be a key witness in the case, was deemed unfit to testify. She had been arrested the day before, the second time in a little more than a week.
“It’s a unique kind of case with a strange set of facts,” Haddad added.
Tonina Borgia, 27, lived with her mother in the apartment where the alleged drowning took place. She was the only other person in the apartment at the time.
Haddad said Tonina Borgia has claimed responsibility to her sister. In April 2011, she told police that she must be the one responsible because her mother could not have done it.
However, investigators didn’t arrest nor press charges against Tonina Borgia for the alleged murder, believing it was not an accurate confession because she was unable to provide any details that matched the evidence.
Investigators in turn have pointed to bruises on Terry Borgia’s arms and statements she made to police as evidence against her.
Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham said Tonina Borgia was charged July 29 with assault after she struck a police officer in the chest. The officer was trying to get her out of an intersection in Macomb Township, where she was on her bicycle, Wickersham said. She was released on a $10,000 personal bond.
Eight days later, on Aug. 6, officers were dispatched to a Macomb Township home, where she had allegedly exposed her breasts while in the backyard, Wickersham said. She was charged with indecent exposure and jailed on a $7,500 cash or surety bond.
Cataldo declined to comment further on the mistrial.
In a case that has endured several twists, this is the third time in seven months that a jury trial for Terry Borgia has began, but ended without a verdict.
She was originally found incompetent to stand trial, but after further treatment, she was found competent.
Then, this past February, Terry Borgia suddenly pleaded no contest just as jury selection was about to begin. The plea effectively meant accepting a life sentence.
She withdrew the plea a few weeks later.
In June, a second trial was under way when attorneys from both sides realized that a warrant obtained by a detective to photograph bruises on Terry Borgia’s arms was invalid because the bruises had already been documented. As a result, an hour-long, taped interview — in which she made statements investigators say indicated responsibility — has to be thrown out as evidence, the judge ruled.
Terry Borgia remains in Macomb County Jail without bond. Haddad said Maceroni denied his request to set bond.
A conference hearing is scheduled for Sept. 11.
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