SOUTH BEND, Ind. - A South Bend woman has pleaded not guilty to killing her 11-month-old son and smothering her daughter so severely that the girl has been in a vegetative state for months.
Police arrested 21-year-old Nyesha Crockett on Monday after her 11-month-old son Micahyah Crockett died, said Tim Corbett, commander of the St. Joseph County Metro Homicide Unit. She faces charges of murder, battery, aggravated battery and neglect of a dependent.
According to a police affidavit, Crockett smothered her son with a shirt, threw him on the ground and kicked him Saturday night. She was angry because the child's father was out with friends and didn't respond to her text messages, including some in which she threatened to hurt the boy, the affidavit said. Crockett later noticed that the baby wasn't breathing and called 911.
Micahyah was taken to a hospital in extremely critical condition and died Monday afternoon, Corbett said. An autopsy was pending.
Crockett asked a magistrate for a public defender Tuesday during an initial court appearance via videoconference at the St. Joseph County Jail, where she is being held without bond. The South Bend Tribune reported she stared without expression as she answered questions from the magistrate.
Ken Cotter, the chief deputy county prosecutor, said during a Monday night news conference that investigators have reviewed injuries that Crockett's then-14-month-old daughter, Alaiyah Crockett, suffered Feb. 1. The investigators determined that Crockett lied about a scarf becoming accidentally wrapped around Alaiyah's neck.
"If it's an accident, it's an accident and that's what it preliminarily had been determined," Cotter said. "After hard work by homicide investigators, we found that she had in fact smothered the child."
Cotter said Alaiyah remains hospitalized in a vegetative state and is a ward of the state.
Corbett made a plea for anyone who might hurt their children to call the police for help.
"We'll come get the child," he said. "We'll take that child away from you, we'll help you, do whatever we can. This is not the answer, killing a baby."
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