A Kearns woman charged with killing an 11-month-old child said she shook the boy she was baby-sitting to stop him from crying and then dropped him on the ground, a detective testified Wednesday.
A 3rd Circuit judge said he heard enough evidence to believe Jill D. Carpenter, 28, is responsible for killing the child. But Judge Robin Reese deferred a decision on whether to bind her over to district court on a charge of second-degree murder.Carpenter is charged with the death of the 11-month-old son of George and Kay Thompson, of West Valley City, on Jan. 29. During Wednesday's preliminary hearing, Salt Lake County sheriff's detective Rod Norton said Carpenter told him she shook the child because he was crying.
She told the detective she dropped the child on the floor and he "bounced his head" twice on the floor. Norton said he asked her to elaborate on "bounced his head" during a taped interview and she replied, "No, not bounced his head. The first time I just let him go."
"When she said `I dropped him," at the same time her hand motions indicated a throw," Norton testified. "Her words were saying I didn't throw him, but her hands were showing a forcible type of throw."
Defense attorney Candice Johnson said numerous times during the interview Carpenter told the detective she did not mean to hurt the child. Carpenter had been the child's baby sitter for several months and the boy showed no signs of abuse before the afternoon he died, she said.
Carpenter also asked the detective if shaking a child could cause death, indicating she did not realize the consequences from shaking, Johnson said.
But Salt Lake County deputy attorney Kim Hornak said Carpenter knew shaking was dangerous and even told Norton she knew of someone who had shaken a child and broken its neck.
Hornak said Carpenter first told detectives she shook the Thompson infant after he stopped breathing to get him to breathe again. She later changed her story and said she shook him to stop him from crying, he then stopped breathing and she dropped him.
"As if the damage is not enough, she picks him up to shake him again," the prosecutor said.
Chief medical examiner Todd Grey testified that the child died as a result of at least three or four vigorous shakes. He said the boy suffered from a subdural hematoma - a collection of blood between the membrane of the skull and the actual surface of the brain.
"The head flops back and forth quite rapidly and that's what causes the injuries in the head," he said.
Johnson asked the judge to bind over her client on manslaughter instead of second-degree murder because the state failed to show Carpenter intended to kill the child. Reese said there was enough evidence for the murder charge, but only based on one of the state's three theories - that Thompson was killed "while in the commission" of child abuse.
Prosecutors asked for additional time to present arguments and case study to support their other two theories - that Carpenter intended to cause serious injury by committing a dangerous act and/or that Carpenter engaged in conduct that created a grave risk of death under circumstances showing depraved indifference to human life.
Reese will hold a hearing to discuss the issues 2 p.m. Tuesday, March 26.