A 28-year-old woman who said a 21-month-old toddler pulled a 4-month-old girl off of a changing table and onto the floor has been charged in the baby’s beating death, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday.
Deputies said they were called at about 9:45 a.m. Tuesday to Samantha Mariel Angeles-De La Rosa’s home near Bartow, where the baby was found unresponsive with bruises on her body, head and face.
They said the child was pronounced dead about an hour later at Winter Haven Hospital.
Detectives said Angeles-De La Rosa told them several different versions of the story, including that the toddler had been rough with the baby in the past, using toys to hit her in the face.
An autopsy revealed that the baby had a fractured skull, which produced a brain bleed and contusions on the outside of the brain.
Dr. Stephen Nelson, the medical examiner, said that such injuries were caused by blunt force trauma and could not be caused by a 2-3 foot fall onto carpet.
He said the girl also had two healing rib fractures and a healing fracture on her left arm.
Nelson said the force was not consistent with an accident and injuries were caused by intentional force.
He said the cause of the victim’s death was blunt force head trauma and the manner of death is homicide.
Detectives said they interviewed Angeles-De La Rosa after receiving the autopsy results, and she told them she had recently pulled the baby out of the car seat too forcefully, causing the baby's arm to get caught in the seat belt.
They said she also told them that in recent weeks, she got mad and squeezed the baby around her abdomen, causing her to cry.
Investigators said she continued to blame the baby's death on the toddler pulling the baby off of a changing table.
They said Angeles-De La Rosa later admitted that the morning of the incident, she began to change the baby's diaper, but the baby would not stop crying.
Detectives said she told them that she immediately began thinking about “how overwhelmed she is in life.”
They said Angeles-De La Rosa told them that when the baby began crying, she also began to cry, and "lost it in a split second."
Angeles-De La Rosa said she grabbed the baby by the shoulders and twice struck the girl's head "hard" against the wooden frame of the changing table.
"There is absolutely no excuse to hurt a baby. We will hold this woman accountable for her actions," Sheriff Grady Judd said in a statement. "If anyone caring for a child is feeling overwhelmed or out of control, please seek help from family, friends, clergy or a social services agency. Get help."
Angeles-De La Rosa was booked into the Polk County Jail on Wednesday on one count of second-degree murder and two counts aggravated child abuse.
She is being held without bail and has a hearing scheduled for Thursday afternoon.
Deputies said Angeles-De La Rosa was previously arrested in 2016 for driving without a valid driver's license and in 2019 for battery.
They did not release the victim's name or say how Angeles-De La Rosa knew her.
Anyone who knows of a child being harmed is asked to call 911 or the Florida Department of Children and Families at 800-962-2873.
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