Defense seeks new trial for grandmother

By: Nico Rubello | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published April 24, 2013


A Macomb County Circuit Court judge will consider a petition to overturn the verdict of a Clinton Township woman convicted of drowning her young grandson.

Terry Borgia, 63, was scheduled to be sentenced April 17 to life in prison. A jury convicted her of drowning her 4-year-old grandson, DeAngelo Tobia, in January 2010 in the bathtub at her apartment.

But Judge Peter Maceroni adjourned the case until May 29 to first rule on defense attorney Mark Haddad’s petition to overturn the guilty verdict.

Haddad contends that the judge should issue a new trial based on Assistant Macomb County Prosecutor Bill Cataldo’s implication during closing statements that Terry Borgia would have pleaded guilty if she was truly covering for her youngest daughter, as the defense maintains.

“(Terry Borgia) won’t tell me that she didn’t do it; she won’t tell me that she did,” Haddad said. “I think she’s just happy to go to prison and take the fall for (the crime).”

The judge had instructed the jury to disregard the statement, but Haddad said it was the sort of thing that was “too hard to disregard.”

If a new trial were issued, it would be the fifth for Borgia. Three other trials have ended in mistrial for various reasons, including one that ended without a verdict because of a hung jury.

DeAngelo’s mother, Amelia Alkasmikha, told reporters outside the courtroom that she believes her mother, Terry Borgia, is innocent and her sister, Tonina Borgia — the only other person in the apartment that morning — had actually committed the murder because of her mental illness. Terry Borgia had taken very good care of her grandchildren on previous occasions, Alkasmikha said.

“I mean, there is no way that she would ever do such a thing — ever,” she said.

Tonina Borgia has offered varying theories as to who is responsible, even admitting the drowning herself. Investigators never arrested or charged Tonina, believing her confession not to be truthful.

She later testified that the confessions weren’t true, and came at a time when she was off her medication.

Investigators instead have pointed to Terry Borgia, who told police after her arrest that she had placed the boy in the bathtub that morning. But Terry Borgia has never directly admitted to committing the murder.

Now facing the possibility of a fifth trial, Alkasmikha said it has been difficult to go through the same proceedings over and over.

Now, she and her husband, Bashar Alkasmikha, just want justice for their son, they said.

“Every day, I’m thinking of my son. Every day I’m crying over my son,” Amelia Alkasmikha added. “I know he’s with God, but I just wish he was here with us. He didn’t deserve this and it’s not fair. And I just want the right person to go to prison. The right person deserves to go to prison.”