Enraged by a 16-month-old boy's incessant crying, the babysitter violently shook him and repeatedly threw him against a hard surface until he was unresponsive.
The woman, who was already on probation for burning another child in Florida, tried to convince a Fulton County jury that the baby fell. She also blamed the infant’s death on her 5-year-old grandson.
But the jury didn’t believe her, the district attorney’s office announced Thursday. And on Wednesday Ms. Mary Spence, 48, was sentenced to life in prison for killing little Samuel Miller.
The incident happened on April 3, 2011 inside little Samuel’s Carver Homes apartment in Atlanta.
Ms. Spence was babysitting the infant and two of her own grandchildren at the time.
“In an apparent fit of frustration because of the baby’s incessant crying, Spence violently shook Samuel and threw him against a hard surface several times,” the district attorney’s spokeswoman Ms. Yvette Brown said.
When the baby became unresponsive, the defendant went to a neighbor who told her to call 911.
Baby Samuel was rushed to the hospital and pronounced dead within 15 minutes of arrival, Ms. Brown said.
“Miller suffered a displaced skull fracture and massive scalp hemorrhaging as a result of blunt force trauma and repeated blows to his head,” Ms. Brown said.
Ms. Spence told investigators the child “fell” and hit his head. But during a forensic interview, the woman’s 5-year-old grandson disclosed that he witnessed his grandmother shaking Samuel and throwing him several times against the wall on a hard bed.
The medical examiner determined that Samuel’s injuries were the result of an “assault by an adult” – not a 5-year-old child as the woman’s attorney would later imply at trial.
“The medical examiner testified at trial that the displaced skull fracture was caused by a force consistent with a fall from a two-story window onto a concrete sidewalk,” Ms. Brown said.
At the time of the incident, Ms. Spence was on probation in connection with a 2005 child cruelty case in Florida in which the defendant admitted to burning the feet of a 2-year-old boy in her care, Ms. Brown said.
Ms. Spence was wanted in Florida for violation of probation, at the time of her arrest in Georgia.
The woman was sentenced to life without parole for murder, aggravated assault and cruelty to children, Ms. Brown said.
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