Babysitter sentenced to just a year in prison for killing a 5-month-old by hitting his head against wall
Jessica Amster has been given credit for the 339 days she's already served and is on 5 years probation and if she behaves herself, this conviction will not appear on her record.
A babysitter from Florida has been sentenced to only a year in prison after the infant boy she was watching, died. 28-year-old Jessica Amster pleaded guilty on July 6 to the charges of aggravated battery with bodily harm in connection with the death of 5-month-old Christian Bent. According to the police, the infant's parents had picked him up from Amster's home in Boynton Beach where he was being looked after in 2015. The parents then realized that the baby was not responding so they immediately rushed him to the Delray Medical Center. The infant was pronounced brain dead four days after he was admitted into the hospital. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Amster told Dwayne Bent, the infant's father, only a day before she violently shook the baby, that he had a nosebleed. The babysitter allegedly said: "I don't want you to think I did anything to him."
The arrest report stated that Amster was babysitting a few children at the time the incident occurred and this included the infant's sister as well. The babysitter's home is located on the 400 block of Southwest 4th Street. The other children who had witnessed the incident said that Amster was "shaking" and "swinging" the infant and had ordered him to stop crying. CBS 12 reported that one child had been cited in the arrest report saying that "Auntie Jessica" swung the infant around so much that he bumped his head "really hard" on the wall.
Amster then told the police that she had gone to check on the infant at around 3 p.m. and found him lying in his own urine. She then reportedly tried waking him up but he "didn't really wake up". She told the authorities that she had then tried administering CPR. The police report from Boynton Beach said that the babysitter did not call 911 at the time and did not ask for help to treat the babies injuries because she was afraid that she would be blamed. This was in spite of her telling the investigators that she should have probably taken the infant to the hospital.
Bent and the infant's mother, Pamela Siscoe, took the baby to Bethesda Memorial Hospital initially but then the infant was transferred to the Delray Medical Center because of how serious his injuries were.
According to the autopsy report that came from the Palm Beach Medical Examiner's Office, the baby had a few substantial injuries such as brain swelling, a skull fracture and many cuts, bruises and bite marks. The cause of death was declared as blunt force trauma and the examiner said that he believed it was a homicide. The Palm Beach Post reported that according to a report from the Department of Children and Families (DCF), the infant's father was considered a suspect in the child's death. Bent had told the police that his baby had fallen out of a baby bouncer that was placed on the table and onto the tile floor in the family home just a few days before the incident at Amster's house had occurred. He said the 5-month-old had cried due to the fall but nothing else looked off. The DCF report stated that the fall would not have been able to cause the infant's death.
The babysitter was arrested in August 2016 and she had initially been charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child and culpable negligence. This could have given her a 15-year sentence behind bars. Prosecutors have dropped the unrelated drug charges after a plea deal was arranged by her attorneys. Amster's plea deal conditions mean she can never contact the infant's family or babysit for others ever again.
She will also be getting credit for the time already served in prison, about 339 days, Local 10 News reported from obtained court documents. This means that Amster will be released from prison in less than a month. The babysitter will also be required to serve 5 years of probation and, as long as she behaves herself, the conviction will not appear on her record.
In a similar situation involving another babysitter an 8-month-old baby girl was killed after almost seven pounds of blankets and pillows were put on her. Melissa Garcia-Rivera was sentenced on March 26, 2018, to five years behind bars after she admitted to killing Maisy Lane Hummer in her home in Bentonville, Arkansas, in October last year. She had told the authorities that she put the infant to bed and had laid two pillows on top of her while she lay on her stomach. When she went back into the room to check on the child an hour later, she wasn't breathing and was declared dead by the time she reached the Mercy Medical Center. Garcia-Rivera, who is a mother of one, said that she had been frustrated by the infant but that she never intended to harm her.
Garcia-Rivera is an undocumented migrant and she admitted to the manslaughter charges. The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette woman is probably going to be deported after she completes her sentence. The infant's mother, Melissa McCraw-Hummer, publicly forgave the babysitter after she admitted to killing the child. The devastated mother said: "I would like to talk to you now. In the early days after her death, I questioned everything. I wondered what awful parent would allow their child to be watched by someone who could do something like this."
"I questioned every decision I made as a parent and whether I even deserved to be Maisy’s mom. You may think that this will be the time when I condemn you. Declare my hatred for you. Threaten you. But I don’t want to do that. You don’t need to hear any condemnation from me. It would only hurt both of us more. What I want you to know is that I forgive you."
Melissa works as a teacher and paid an emotional tribute to her dead child saying: "As Wade and I try to move forward with life and find happiness again, I want to ask that people not forget her. We had a daughter named Maisy Lane Hummer. She was 8 months old and full of life. She had dimples and a button nose. She was my whole world."
The speech had many in tears and Garcia-Rivera said: "I'm sorry. I am terribly sorry."