Toronto Sun

Thursday, May 2, 2002

Vain battle to save girl, 3

Hamilton woman on murder rap

By IAN ROBERTSON, TORONTO SUN

HAMILTON -- A 27-year-old mother of two young boys was charged with second-degree murder last night, hours after a three-year-old girl died in hospital from severe head injuries.

Earlier in the day, as doctors struggled in vain to save the child, Tanya Choma appeared in a downtown court initially charged with aggravated assault.

Choma is expected to return to court this morning.

Sgt. Maggie McKittrick said police had asked for Choma to be held in the Barton St. jail as the investigation by major crime officers continued and because of the child's rough condition.

Taylor White died in hospital yesterday after undergoing surgery on Tuesday.

Emergency crews responded to a 911 call Tuesday at Apt. 2 of the Melrose Ave. S. lowrise, at Main St. E., and found Taylor unconscious. She was taken away by ambulance and soon after, police launched a child abuse investigation, saying the death was "suspicious."

POST-MORTEM

A post-mortem was to be conducted today.

A man, whom neighbours identified as John, dialled 911 at 4:35 p.m. Tuesday after rushing home from work when Choma, his common-law wife, alerted him to her friend's daughter having difficulty breathing, McKittrick said.

Choma's boyfriend tried to revive the child, then called 911.

The youngster suffered "severe head trauma" and injuries to her upper body, McKittrick said.

Police located her young mom and drove her to the hospital.

"They were quiet ... and kept to themselves,"a neighbour, who would only gave her name as Jane, said of the Apt. 2 occupants.

Taylor's mom, Tabitha White, 19, "was looking for a place to live," the neighbour told the Sun. "She was trying to get on her own feet and ... trusted these people to look after this little girl.

"It's heartbreaking," she said.

White's friend Robert Barnhardt said White and her daughter lived with Choma, John and the couple's two sons after they all left the Muskoka area about three months ago.

White told him she had a rough life in Huntsville and moved to Hamilton to be near a sister. "She got welfare and wanted to work and had just got an apartment."

About a month ago White moved without her daughter into the flat near the ground-floor flat she had shared with Choma and John.

"She was planning on moving Taylor into her apartment this week," Barnhardt said.

Police said Choma's boyfriend was Taylor's dad and he also had two sons, aged 5 years and 3 months, with Choma.

LEFT FOR B.C.

But Barnhardt said White had told him Taylor's dad was a Muskoka man who left for British Columbia. Choking back sobs, Barnhardt said the tot was pretty and happy, "with really good manners."

White, who wasn't home when 911 was called, told Barnhardt that Taylor "was hurt in a fall."

Looking dazed, White said she had "no comment," as a neighbour put an arm around her outside the police-guarded building.

Copyright © 2002, Canoe, a division of Netgraphe Inc.