Malden woman sentenced to prison in death of baby

Friday, March 16, 2018

KENNETT, Mo. -- A Malden, Mo., woman was sentenced to prison Wednesday after pleading guilty to recklessly causing the death of a 9-month-old boy by shaking him while he was left in her care.

Breon Dannielle Lashay Hess, 26, pleaded guilty as charged to the Class C felony of first-degree involuntary manslaughter before Presiding Circuit Judge Robert Mayer, according to Casenet.

After accepting her plea, Mayer reportedly sentenced Hess to seven years in the Missouri Department of Corrections.

As part of the plea, the state apparently dismissed the other two Class C felonies of abuse of a child and first-degree endangering the welfare of a child Hess was facing.

The charges stemmed from an incident, which occurred on Halloween 2016.

Authorities, according to earlier reports, learned of the incident at about 4:30 p.m. that day when Malden police officers were sent to an apartment on Blades Drive regarding an unresponsive infant.

The infant initially was taken to Southeast Health of Stoddard County in Dexter, Mo., for treatment and then transferred to Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital in St. Louis, Malden Chief Jarrett Bullock wrote in his probable-cause statement.

The infant, who was being treated for head trauma, died on Nov. 3, 2016.

Medical staff, Bullock said, reported the infant had been suffering from "devastating brain injury, extensive retinal hemorrhage (and) possible retinoschistis (splitting of the retina)."

All of the infant's injuries were described as having no "medical or accidental explanation," Bullock said.

The injuries gave medical staff probable cause to suspect "abuse/negligence on the part of the said child's parents, legal guardian or caretakers," Bullock said.

The infant, he said, was in the "care, custody and control" of Hess at the time the injuries were sustained.

After being told of her rights, Hess was interviewed as part of the investigation.

"In her own words, she told us that after caring for the child since Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016, he was unusually fussy and (while) trying to deal with him ... she became upset and frustrated she could not calm him," Bullock said.

Hess reported she picked up the infant with her hands underneath his armpits.

"She shook him," Bullock said. "Ms. Hess went on to say after shaking the small infant, she dropped him onto a blanket in the floor and watched over him for a few minutes," Bullock said.

Hess further reported the infant "was calm and quiet, and after an unknown amount of time, she checked on him and found that he was gasping for breath, and he vomited."

At that point, Bullock said, Hess reported she picked the infant up and noticed "one eye was closed, and the other was open, and he was barely breathing."

Hess then "shook the child again to try to get a response, but he did not respond," said Bullock.

The authorities subsequently were notified.

Calls to Dunklin County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey McCormick were not returned by press time.

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