Crime and Courts

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child abuse

NYC Woman Gets 18 Years for Drowning Toddler in Storage Container

A jury found 27-year-old Lin Li, of Sunset Park, guilty of manslaughter in the death of Melody Zheng last year

What to Know

  • Melody Zheng was just 2 years old when her mother held her head under water in a storage container to punish her in 2016
  • The little girl fell unconscious and was pronounced dead about a half an hour later; prosecutors say her mother had also held her 4-year-old son under water a day before taking her daughter's life
  • The defendant, Lin Li, was sentenced Wednesday to 18 years in prison for convictions of first-degree manslaughter and attempted assault

A Brooklyn woman has been sentenced to nearly two decades in prison for drowning her 2-year-old daughter in a storage container filled with water in 2016, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Lin Li, a 28-year-old from Sunset Park, had been found guilty of manslaughter last year in the death of Melody Zheng. Prosecutors say she put the toddler in a container and held her under water until she stopped struggling; the jury also convicted Li of attempted assault for holding her 4-year-old son's head under water a day before the death of her daughter.

Prosecutors say Li picked Zheng up on March 13, 2016 and took her into a bathroom to punish her. She put the child in the container and filled it with water, then submerged her head until she stopped moving. Li then called 911. The little girl was pronounced dead at a hospital half an hour later.

The medical examiner determined that Zheng had multiple bruises and contusions consistent with being held under water and drowned.

“This defendant had a duty to care for her children and to keep them safe, but instead she used inexplicable and dangerous methods to discipline them – and caused the violent death her daughter," Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said in a statement. "Nothing can bring back little Melody, who had an entire life ahead of her. But, with today’s sentence, we have obtained a measure of justice in this terribly tragic case.”

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