COLONIAL HEIGHTS, VA (WWBT) - A 30-year-old mother faces a murder charge in the death of her infant daughter in September.
The medical examiner determined the infant died from blunt force injuries to her head, ruling the baby's death a homicide.
The Colonial Heights Police Department says a grand jury certified a murder charge for Sade Danyell Evans on Tuesday after she was arrested. She was taken into custody while appearing in court on an unrelated traffic charge.
Emergency crews responded to the 100 block of Lakeview Park Road on Sept. 2 for the report of a 24-day-old infant who was having trouble breathing. The child - Lailah Bradford - was taken to VCU Medical Center, where she died the next day.
Neighbor Nicholas Blair vividly remembers the morning his neighborhood was full of flashing lights and first responders.
"The night it happened, I cried. I cried hard just thinking about the idea of it," said Blair.
He says he didn't know Evans except through short interactions. He says she appeared to be a loving mother to her two-year-old son and newborn baby girl.
"Attached, not anything that would show me she would take that baby out of this world," he explained.
Blair says Evans was distraught holding onto a baby blanket after that fateful night, so he was shocked to learn the mother was indicted for first degree murder and felony child neglect.
Search warrants reveal details from the morning Lailah Bradford died. Evans told police she slept in the same room as her two children. She woke up to find Lailah's bassinet on its side and the baby on the floor.
Police says Evans two-year-old son was also home at the time.
Officers seized the contents of baby Lailah's bassinet, including the sheets, blankets, foam pad, a pair of socks and a bottle. 14 cigarette butts and a bag of grapes were also seized, according to a Sept. 2 search warrant.
A CHPD officer administered CPR upon arrival when the baby was discovered unable to breath. She was rushed first to Southside Regional Medical Center, where doctors removed a grape from her throat. She was then taken to VCU Medical Center.
An autopsy later revealed the infant suffered from two skull fractures and brain swelling. Court documents say a child abuse expert found the injuries were consistent with non-accidental trauma.
"This is not something we take lightly," said Captain William Anspach, with Colonial Heights Police.
Anspach says a nearly four-month investigation led to the indictments handed down by the grand jury.
"We followed every lead...to ensure justice in this case is brought forth," he explained.
Evans is being held without bond at Riverside Regional Jail. She has a court hearing set for Jan. 16 at Colonial Heights Circuit Court.
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