A mother in Texas was arrested this week after she allegedly shook her newborn daughter several times before “slamming” her onto the changing table, then performed internet searches for “Shaken Baby Syndrome” instead of seeking medical attention, authorities said.
Clarissa Nicole Stewart was taken into custody on Wednesday and charged with one count of injury to a child, a first-degree felony, court records reviewed by Law&Crime show.
Stewart was booked into the Taylor County Detention Center in connection with the Nov. 15 killing. She is being held on $100,000 bond, according to jail records.
A probable cause affidavit obtained by Abilene, Texas, CBS and Telemundo affiliate KTAB, an employee with Child Protective Services contacted law enforcement on Nov. 15 about a 2-month-old girl who had been brought to Hendrick Medical Plaza in Abilene with serious “non-accidental” head trauma. Due to the severity of the infant’s injuries, she was taken by helicopter to Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, over 150 miles west of Abilene.
The initial reason the victim was brought to the hospital was because she was “twitching and not acting right,” but the medical team quickly determined that the newborn’s injuries were suspicious, authorities said.
Doctors said the infant suffered a subdermal hemorrhage — which is bleeding in the area between the skull and the brain — and bruises to her torso and the area around her eye, KTAB reported. Police said Stewart and the newborn’s father were unable to account for any of the victim’s injuries.
During an interview with police, she allegedly confessed to shaking her daughter several times and then “slamming” the child onto the changing table at about 2 that day, Sweetwater, Texas, ABC affiliate KTXS reported.
Stewart also allegedly told police the “slamming” took place about six hours before she sought any medical assistance.
Authorities said that during that time, she allegedly searched the internet for, “What are symptoms of shaken baby syndrome,” “why is baby sleeping more than usual” “how long for shaken baby symptoms to appear,” and “why is my 2-month-old shaking,” according to KTAB.
The station also reported text messages between Stewart and her husband may indicate that she was suffering from postpartum depression.
Messages recovered from her phone reportedly read, “I want nothing to do with [the baby] when you’re off. I can’t stand her anymore the second she cries, it throws me into a rage I didn’t know I could have,” “It’s getting harder and harder to love her,” and “I honestly don’t want to pump [breast milk] anymore because of her I don’t want that connection anymore.”
KTXS reported the victim requires nourishment through a feeding tube because she failed a “swallow study,” meaning she is not showing signs of instinctually sucking or swallowing. KTAB reported that those symptoms came after the newborn underwent brain surgery.
Stewart is being held on $100,000 bond.
Publicly available records show that a Clarissa Nicole Stewart was employed by the Abilene Independent School District in 2020 as an educational aide. A Facebook page appearing to belong to Stewart states that she works at Cooper High School in Abilene. The district and Cooper High did not immediately respond to messages from Law&Crime regarding Stewart’s previous and current employment status.
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