Taj Mcdonald Pleads Guilty to Strangling, Trying to Drown and Beating His 3-Year-Old Nephew

Taj McDonald, the 22-year-old Worcester man accused of trying to strangle his 3-year-old nephew then drown him in a bathtub, pleaded guilty to several charges in court Tuesday in connection with the September attack.

As family wept loudly in the courtroom, the child’s mother, who declined to give her name, said the little boy has recovered from the brutal attack inside a County Club Boulevard apartment in Worcester.

Prosecutor Sarah Richardson spoke on behalf of the child’s mother and aunt during the plea hearing in Worcester Superior Court.

“As for the child, they do report that he is a happy kid who has recovered from his physical injuries,” Richardson said. “He still suffers. They can tell that he’s been through trauma.”

The boy is anxious when his mother leaves and always wants to be with them, the prosecutor said.

Taj McDonald, the man who called Worcester police on Thursday and said to dispatchers that he killed his 3-year-old nephew, allegedly strangled the boy and tried to drown him in the bathtub.

McDonald was watching his brother’s son inside the apartment in September when he began attacking the boy. The child’s father was at work.

Richardson said McDonald strangled the child and then struck the boy on the head so hard the child hit a table. McDonald then carried the child into a bathtub where he forced the boy underwater until the boy stopped moving.

McDonald left the building and borrowed a cell phone. He called 911 and said he just killed his nephew. McDonald then returned to the apartment, saw the boy was still alive and, in McDonald’s words, threw the boy down a set of stairs in a “last ditch” effort to kill him.

Police found the boy on a couch in the fetal position. An officer scooped the boy up. The boy vomited blood and water and was rushed to a local hospital for treatment.

McDonald’s aunt said he has Asperger’s Syndrome and without treatment does not understand the severity of what happened. She begged Judge William Sullivan to send McDonald to a mental health facility instead of prison.

The court needs to understand how difficult it is for people with Asperger’s Syndrome, she said.

“He doesn’t quite grasp what he has done,” she said.

McDonald will be evaluated and then return to court on June 23 for sentencing. Richardson is asking for a sentence of 8-to-10-years with three years of probation. Defense attorney Tom Vukmirovits said he would make his recommendation after his client is evaluated.

The boy’s father, Ari McDonald, submitted an impact statement, which was read in court. Ari McDonald is the defendant’s older brother.

The incident has brought heartache, confusion, anger, hatred and disappointment to the family, he wrote.

“Even with this even transpiring, I still love my brother and he is very dear to me, which makes this even harder to stomach,” Ari McDonald wrote. “I do not believe that 8-10 years in prison will do much to help him whether he is mentally competent or not. He needs to be placed in a mental treatment facility, because something is clearly wrong with him.”

While Ari McDonald said he doesn’t know if he can ever forgive his brother, he believes prison will never help McDonald.

McDonald pleaded guilty to charges of assault to murder, reckless endangerment of a child, assault and battery on a child causing serious bodily injury, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, two counts of attempted murder and two counts of strangulation or suffocation.