A Baltimore day care worker accepted a plea deal Tuesday in the death of an 8-month-old girl who would not nap, WBAL reported.
Leah Walden, 24, of Windsor Mill, Maryland, was charged in the suffocation death of Reese Annette Bowman on May 23, 2017, an incident that was caught on surveillance cameras. Walden pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, and Baltimore City Circuit Judge Althea Handy sentenced her to life in prison with any time beyond 70 years suspended, the Baltimore Sun reported. Walden would be eligible for parole when she is 59, the newspaper reported.
“I’m just reflecting on everything I heard,” Handy said after watching the video from Rocket Tiers Learning Center in Baltimore. “There are tears everywhere in this courtroom."
Originally, Walden claimed the infant died accidentally, but video showed her roughly handling the child and using a blanket and pillow to cover her face and head, WBAL reported.
The day care center has since closed, the Sun reported.
Walden's attorney, Joshua Insley, called it “a terrible case.”
"This was a case of a day care center which was not operating up to code, using untrained employees and overloading them with kids,” Insley told the court. “I think what you saw was a situation where there was a breakdown. She fell apart under the stress."
Samantha Carlton told Handy that her sister was “not a monster.”
“She’s not an evil person. She was frustrated,” Carlton said.
“I’m so sorry,” Carlton said, turning to the infant’s family. “With all my heart, I’m sorry.”
The baby’s father, Justin Bowman, told the court he was “devastated.”
“I will never see my girl take her first steps,” he said. “Hold her, kiss her, comfort her when she’s scared, hear her say ‘I love you.’
“Reese Annette Bowman accomplished more in her short life than (Walden) ever will.”