DETROIT (AP) — A 26-year-old woman was charged Wednesday with felony murder in the stabbing death of her daughter at their Detroit home just days before the girl's ninth birthday.
The mother, Semeria Greene, was also charged with one count of first-degree child abuse. Greene's four young sons have been turned over to Child Protective Services, police spokeswoman Sgt. Eren Stephens said.
Neighbors called police to the Greene family's apartment just east of downtown in the early hours of Sunday morning. Officers arrived to discover Tameria Greene bleeding and unresponsive on the floor. She had been stabbed in the chest with a knife and was pronounced dead on arrival at a hospital. Semeria Greene was taken into custody.
"This is only the second day of the year and we are charging a parent with a child homicide," said Kym Worthy, county prosecutor. "This case is made even more profoundly sad because today would have been Tameria's ninth birthday."
State child welfare workers have known of problems with the family for at least two years and have unsuccessfully tried to take Semeria Greene's children into protective custody, said Michigan Department of Human Services Director Maura Corrigan. She said an expedited internal review after the death showed that case workers have been trying to protect the children and act on concerns raised by family, friends and neighbors.
"Most recently, DHS petitioned the court Nov. 28, unsuccessfully, to remove Tameria and her siblings from her mother's home," Corrigan said in a statement. She said the department "continued to provide court-ordered counseling services to the family as well as conducting in-home visits, the last of which occurred only two days before Tameria's death."
"We share the grief felt by her loved ones and her community," Corrigan said.
Corrigan's statement didn't include details of the removal requests and the hearings, and spokesman David Akerly said the department would not go beyond what was in the statement.
Tameria's 7-, 4-, 2- and 1-year-old brothers now are in foster care.
The girl's slaying came at the end of a particularly brutal year in Detroit. By Thanksgiving, the city had surpassed the 344 homicides reported in all of 2011. As of Dec. 16, the city had recorded 375 murders.
Mayor Dave Bing was expected to announce and discuss the city's 2012 crime statistics on Thursday.
Greene was scheduled to be arraigned Thursday afternoon in 36th District Court. It wasn't immediately clear whether she had a lawyer.
A conviction on the murder charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison without parole. The child abuse charge carries a maximum 15-year prison sentence.
A motive for the stabbing was not clear. Police were not releasing details of the case Wednesday, Stephens said.
Neighbor Kimyatta Craigmiles told The Detroit News that she had earlier seen Greene arguing with a man in the complex's parking lot.
Neighbors adorned the family's porch and front door at the Martin Luther King Apartments with balloons and stuffed animals in the girl's memory.
Associated Press reporter David N. Goodman contributed to this story.