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Brooklyn woman found guilty of drowning two-year-old daughter by holding her head underwater in storage bin

27-year-old Lin Li faces up to 25 years in prison on manslaughter charge and up to 15 years in prison on attempted assault charge when she is sentenced on June 24

A Brooklyn mother has been found guilty of drowning her two-year-old daughter by holding her head underwater inside a storage bin as punishment.

According to a press release by the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office, 27-year-old Lin Li was convicted of manslaughter in the 2016 drowning death of her daughter, Melody Zheng, before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Deborah Dowling on May 31.

She was also convicted of first-degree attempted assault for allegedly holding her four-year-old son's head underwater a day before she fatally administered the same punishment to Melody.

Both children had been living with their grandparents in China before joining their parents in Brooklyn weeks before Melody's death.

During trial testimony, the court heard that, on March 13, 2016, at approximately 8:50 pm the family's apartment on 47th Street in Sunset Park, Li took Melody into the bathroom to punish her.

She was accused of placing her daughter inside a storage container in the tub, filling it with water, and then submerging the two-year-old's head under the water until she stopped struggling.

She then walked out of the bathroom before coming back to find Melody unconscious, and then dialled 911 for help, the court heard.

When EMS arrived, they found the toddler's father, who was reportedly asleep while his wife was punishing the toddler, desperately attempting CPR.

Melody was found unresponsive and rushed to Maimonides Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 9:20 pm. The medical examiner determined that the two-year-old had multiple bruises and contusions that were "consistent with her being held underwater and drowned."

The NY Daily News reported that Li testified in her defense and confessed to the jury that she left Melody in the storage container for a brief period of time without supervision. However, she denied holding her head underwater as punishment and said, "If I didn’t leave that bathroom, then my daughter would not have died."

But Assistant District Attorney Roger McCready countered that assertion by playing Li's videotaped police interview to the jury where she can be heard admitting to deputies that she held the two-year-old's head down in the water-filled bin up to her forehead and saw bubbles coming out of her child's mouth. 

The jury ultimately acquitted Li of her second-degree murder charge but found her guilty of manslaughter and first-degree attempted assault.

Speaking after the verdict, District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said, "Melody was a defenseless child who depended on her mother to protect her. It is extremely sad and inexplicable that she lost her life at the hands of the person who should have kept her safe. Nothing will bring Melody back, but with this verdict, we make clear that we will bring to justice those who harm our children."

Li faces up to 25 years in prison on the manslaughter charge and up to 15 years in prison on the attempted assault charge when she is sentenced on June 24, 2019.