A daycare worker has pleaded guilty to killing an eight-month-old girl by smothering her with a blanket because she wouldn’t go to sleep.
Leah Walden, 24, admitted the murder of Reese Bowman at Rocket Tiers Learning Center in Baltimore in May 2017 at a court hearing on Tuesday.
Walden was sentenced to 70 years in prison for the horrifying killing and sobbed during her sentencing hearing, while telling the court how she had snapped after not being given the training or assistance needed for her job.
Assistant State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess said Walden had told a co-worker, ‘Girl, I’m frustrated. I’m sick of this little b****. I hate this little b****. She makes me want to punch her in the face.’
Eight-month-old Reese Bowman, who was smothered to death by daycare worker Leah Walden in May last year
The court heard that Walden returned from lunch to Rocket Tiers Learning Center just east of downtown and found baby Reese would not sleep.
She then slapped the baby before pinning her down and piling the blankets over her face, suffocating baby Reese.
Walden initially claimed she had fed the baby and put her in a crib for a nap before coming back 45 minutes later to find the girl unresponsive.
But her argument unraveled after the center’s CCTV told a different story.
Walden was seen covering the baby with ‘excessive blankets for long periods of time’.
She was also filmed covering the child’s face with a pillow, violently snatching the baby and slapping her.
Walden (left) was said to have been frustrated at Bowman (right) because the baby wouldn’t go to sleep
The city’s Criminal Investigations Chief Stanley Bradford told the Baltimore Sun how Walden was seen ‘violently snatching the child out of the crib with one arm, swinging at the baby as if she was slapping her, and placing pillows over the baby’s face.’
He added: ‘Watching that video is disturbing. Reese Bowman, in my opinion, was tortured.’
Rocket Tiers was shut down after Reese’s death.
In a statement at the time of the incident last year, Baltimore Police said it appeared the baby was awake at the time of the assault.
Stanley Bradford, head of Baltimore’s homicide unit, said: ‘To me, and all of us who are parents, when we look at something like that, there’s no explanation to give.
‘It’s just evil. I mean what motive is there to treat a baby that way?
‘From what I saw, why would you treat an 8-month-old baby, or any child for that matter, in that manner?’
The Rocket Tiers Learning Center in Baltimore where the incident took place has since shut down
Bradford added: ‘Watching that video is disturbing. Reese Bowman, in my opinion, was tortured.’
Her family released a statement saying losing her had caused ‘tremendous pain’ and said their ‘hearts are broken’.
They added: ‘No family should ever have to experience the loss of a child under any circumstances.’
By the end of Tuesday’s hearing in Baltimore Circuit Court even the judge was in tears.
‘I’m just reflecting on everything I heard,’ Judge Althea Handy said, composing herself. ‘There are tears everywhere in this courtroom.’
Handy broke down as she watched the CCTV video of the baby’s murder shortly after the young day care worker entered the court.
Walden said: ‘There was not a time in my heart that I wanted this to happen.’