Trigger warning: violence, infant death
Samantha Klein, 31, has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for shaking a three-month-old baby so violently the infant’s spine shattered. The babysitter allowed baby Alaya Foster to agonize for 24 hours before contacting medical services. The child ended up dying from her injuries.
Klein, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in October in Niagara Falls, New York, was sentenced on Tuesday by Niagara County Judge Matthew Murphy to 25 years in prison - the maximum term the judge could impose.
Alaya suffered bleeding on the brain, a fractured skull and damage to her spinal cord. The violent attack is believed to have taken place only hours after Klein took Alaya in at around 9 pm on February 21. Sometime after midnight, Klein searched Google for the symptoms of seizures since Alaya was unconscious.
Later in the day, Klein reportedly talked to Alaya's mom on the phone, but did not report anything was wrong. She finally called 911 in the early hours of February 23 and Alaya was immediately transported to the hospital “unresponsive.” She died shortly afterward. Klein denied her role in the attack for months and even proclaimed her innocence on television, telling a TV station: "I did nothing to that baby."
She claimed a bruise on the baby’s face was already there when her mother, Dominique Hilson, dropped her off for a two-day stay. She also stated that she only noticed something was wrong when she put the child to bed on the second day. "I kissed her on her forehead, and she was just cold," she said. "I started screaming and I had my friend call 911 and I started panicking. I didn't know what to do."
Although she claimed she "loved" Alaya and was afraid for her own safety after becoming "known as a baby killer," by October, she pleaded guilty plea to first-degree manslaughter, admitting she caused Alaya's injuries by shaking the baby and using blunt force trauma.
Deaths from blunt force trauma result from jumping or falling from heights, blast injuries, and being struck by a firm object, such as a fist, crowbar, bat, or ball. Bite wounds and chop injuries are also considered forms of blunt force trauma.
During the sentencing hearing, the child’s grandmother, Crystal Dusen, stated, "You are an evil monster and we believe you are a dangerous person because you killed an innocent, helpless child who could not defend herself."
When Judge Murphy asked Klein why she waited more than a day to call 911, or why she didn’t contact a relative, she simply responded, "I didn’t know that the injuries were that bad. I honestly didn't know what was even wrong with her."