PHILIPSBURG–A woman charged with causing the death of a seven-month-old baby she was babysitting on March 20, 2015, may be sent to prison for twelve years, it emerged during Wednesday’s criminal sitting in the Court of First Instance.
The Prosecutor’s Office is holding suspect M.N.D. (27) responsible for the little girl’s death, which it qualified as manslaughter.
The baby passed away March 23, 2015, presumably of a cerebral haemorrhage as a result of a trauma.
A paediatrician at St. Maarten Medical Center filed a report with the Prosecutor’s Office which launched the so-called LILAC investigation in cooperation with the Police Force’s Youth and Vice Department. Four years later, the defendant returned to St. Maarten from her native Nevis to tell her side of the story.
The suspect, who initially was heard as a witness and was arrested in this case on May 29, 2015, denied any wrongdoing.
Led before the judge on Wednesday she upheld her previous statements that she was innocent and that she had nothing to do with the death of the child who had been in her care.
“I am not the person to hurt anyone,” she said in stating that she had returned to St. Maarten to attend her trial and to “clear” her name.
She pointed to the victim’s two-year-old brother as the culprit in this case. She claimed that while she was in the bathroom the little boy had taken his sister from the bed, had grabbed her and had banged her head against the floor twice.
An expert of Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) established that the victim had died as a result of external violence to the head which had resulted in a fractured skull. A fall from the bed could not explain the injuries, experts said.
The NFI rejected the babysitter’s scenario and stated that the injuries were caused by a “violent, blunt impact of force to the head … whether or not in combination with shaking [of the victim’s body – Ed.]”
According to the NFI, it is highly unlikely that a two-year-old would have been able to exert such an amount of violence.
The Prosecutor added that the baby had been taken to the Baby Clinic for a regular check-up on March 17 and had been declared completely healthy at that time.
With the young victim’s parents and relatives present in the courtroom, the Prosecutor said the little girl’s death had caused “indescribable grief.”
He said the suspect’s reluctance to provide clarity about what exactly had happened that day had resulted in the fact that the little girl’s parents until this day still not know what exactly happened.
The suspect is not a trained babysitter, but was considered fully accountable for her acts.
The Prosecutor said the undue delay in this case had led to speculations about the possible involvement of the victim’s father in this case, but that the Prosecutor’s Office had “no single” indication of the father’s or any other person’s involvement in the girl’s death.
The suspect’s pre-trial detention was suspended early 2015. The Prosecutor called on the Court to lift the defendant’s suspension in case of a conviction.
His client is no “baby killer,” attorney-at-law Geert Hatzmann said in pleading for her full acquittal. He claimed that all baby killings involve “cry-babies” and persons who lose their self-control and act in “blind” anger. Usually it concerns persons with severe personal problems, he explained.
He stated that his client, who is known as “cheerful, friendly, helpful and caring,” does not fit this profile. Furthermore, the victim was a quiet baby who never cried, the lawyer said.
According to him, manslaughter was “totally” out of his client’s character. “I cannot believe that my client would have wanted to deliberately cause physical harm,” he said in calling the Prosecutor’s demand “excessive.”
Hatzmann said he had “struggled” with the alternative scenario, but stated the victim’s brother had been jealous of his younger sister and had also treated his sister roughly before the fatal incident. The lawyer concluded that the alternative scenario should not be dismissed.
The Court will give its decision July 24.