Mount Vernon mom arraigned on manslaughter, strangulation charges

A 28-year-old Mount Vernon mother pleaded not guilty today to charges that she strangled her boyfriend in March and waited until the next day to call for help.

Tywana Kerr (left) was indicted last week on a charge of second-degree manslaughter and first-degree strangulation, both felonies, in the death of Anthony “Rickie” Lowery. The 43-year-old father of three was found on Kerr’s bed the morning of March 15.

According to court papers, Kerr told police that they had an argument about him spending the night. She said the argument turned physical and he collapsed to the floor. She then pulled him onto the bed and went to sleep. The next morning, Kerr said she called 911 after saying Lowery was unresponsive, the court papers stated.

She was arrested later that day.  Police said she admitted on video to choking Lowery.

Kerr, the mother of a 2- and a 4-year-old, is being held without bail. She faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

Members of Lowery’s family have said the two had been dating for months and they were unaware of any domestic violence in the relationship. Lowery, who also lived in Mount Vernon, worked in construction and landscaping for local churches, according to his family. He has a son, 22, and two daughters, ages 12 and 13.

The strangulation charge is among three criminal charges that took effect in November to address the choking of victims. Criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation is a misdemeanor, and first- and second-degree strangulation, are both felonies. Under prior law, someone could be choked nearly to death, but the attacker could go unpunished if there were no visible physical injuries. Now, an attacker can be charged after choking or suffocating someone, regardless of injury.

The new laws, targeted at domestic violence, has resulted in thousands of arrests in recent months, according to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.