BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A Baltimore daycare worker plead guilty to first-degree murder in the death of an eight-month infant, Reese Bowman, at the Rocket Tiers Learning Center in East Baltimore.
24-year-old Leah Walden was sentenced to life with all but 70 years of the sentence suspended and five years of probation upon release. She had previously been held without bond.
Rocket Tiers Learning Center’s video from May 23, 2017, captured Walden alone with the infant in a room with other napping children, when she singled out the victim who had not settled down and was still awake.
A coworker later told police Walden expressed anger and frustration with the victim infant that day.
The video footage captured Walden slapping the victim, holding her down and violently handling her before holding her and placing her back into her crib and covering her head with multiple blankets and a pillow.
Walden eventually removed the infant from her crib at the end of naptime and took the child to coworkers in the next room who performed CPR until police and paramedics arrived.
The infant was pronounced dead at the University of Maryland Hospital, never regaining consciousness.
According to the State’s Attorney’s office, police first investigated the case as a sudden, unexplained infant death until the daycare owner reviewed more surveillance footage and alerted authorities to the abuse.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled Bowman’s death was due to “asphyxia or suffocation from rebreathing non-oxygenated air while her face and head were covered up with blankets and pillows,” The analysis of the footage along with a medical examination excluded all other possible causes of death, officials say.
“As a mother my heart is truly broken over the tragic loss of an innocent 8-month old baby,” said State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby. “Parents trust childcare providers every day with the lives of our children and anytime someone maliciously betrays that trust by taking the life of a child, they deserve to be held accountable. Today’s plea is part of that accountability and while it won’t bring baby Reese back, I hope knowing that the person responsible for her death is spending 70 years behind bars, will begin to bring closure for this family.”