Wife: 11-year-old's bathtub drowning death was just an accident

by: Tom Jones Updated:

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CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. - The wife of a Clayton County teacher charged with murdering her son says it was all just a horrible accident.

Michael Smith, 32, told police he took 11-year-old Ty Lee, who has autism, out of his wheelchair and placed him in the bathtub and then went to check on the three other children in the home.

Michael Smith and his 11-year-old stepson
© 2017 Cox Media Group.

When he came back to check on the boy, the child had drowned in the bathtub.

Smith is a teacher at Smith Elementary School. Police have not said that he intended to drown the boy, only that he was negligent by leaving him alone in the tub.

Mom says it was just an accident

Channel 2’s Tom Jones met with the boy’s mother, Dana Smith, at her attorney’s office Wednesday.

Smith says her husband loved his stepson and there’s no doubt in her mind that this was an accident.

“He's been there since he was 3. There's no murder. At all,” she said. “This was just an accident. That’s all it was.”

Smith says she does have some questions about what happened to her son.

“I just want to know what happened,” she said. “I want to know if he had a seizure. And I know he had it, I just need it to be confirmed.”

She says she believes her son had the seizure and became stiff.

“I think what happened was since he wasn’t in control of his body, he just slid into the water,” she said.

She says she’s devastated, but comforted knowing her son is in a better place.

“I can’t treat my baby better than Jesus can treat my baby,” she said.

DFACS trying to remove 3 other children

Days before her son’s funeral, Smith says she’s now fighting DFACS to keep her other three children.

She says a DFACS worker told her, “I got an order to have all the kids, so we need the baby now.”

Smith says she wasn’t home at the time of the incident and there is no history of DFACS ever being called to her home, so she doesn’t understand why they want to take her children. Smith is still breastfeeding her 6-month-old.

“If they were going to take them, why didn’t they take them the first day?” attorney Kimberly Bandoh asked.

Bandoh called it cruel and unusual for the state to try to take the children.

“To now be trying to rip her other children when it’s been zero allegation that's she's ever been a negligent mother,” Bandoh said.

A DFACS spokesperson couldn’t comment on the case because of confidentiality laws.

She said hypothetically, the agency seeks to remove children when there is some evidence the children weren't properly supervised. However, Channel 2’s Tom Jones got the removal order, which says the state is seeking to remove them because the mother is refusing to cooperate with law enforcement.

Smith's attorney says that's no reason to remove her kids.

“Are you upset because she's standing with her husband and standing by her husband?” Bandoh asked.

The removal order also says there are no other caretakers available, but Smith says the children's grandparents are here and so is a godparent.

A court will decide Friday whether to remove the children.

“She hasn’t even buried her son. Can you give her a break? Can we wait until after Friday?” Bandoh said.