DCS investigated previous incident involving mom accused of murder
A forensic pathologist and deputy coroner backed up what police said from the beginning. The death of 11-month-old Micahyah Crockett was ruled a homicide Tuesday.
According to Coroner Chuck Hurley, the baby died from "brain swelling due to lack of oxygen." Investigators say Nyesha Crockett murdered her baby and has a history of abuse.
Crockett appeared in front of a judge on a video screen Tuesday from the St. Joseph County Jail. She told a judge she needs a public defender to represent her on the four felony charges. Investigators say Crockett suffocated, threw and kicked baby Micahyah over the weekend.
She has also been charged in a case from February.
WSBT received several comments through emails and on social media asking how Crockett had custody of that baby after police said she strangled her 14-month-old daughter Alaiyah.
It started when Crockett called 911 February 1, saying her daughter wasn't breathing.
According to Department of Child Services spokesman James Wide, DCS received a call to its hotline that same day. But because of confidentiality laws, it's unclear who made that call. It could have been a police officer, paramedic, doctor or even a neighbor, Wise said.
But a St. Joseph County caseworker opened an investigation into the incident, also known as an "assessment," Wide added, saying that assessment is still considered "open." It was never closed. But it's not clear why.
According to court documents, Crockett told medical personnel in February Alaiyah wrapped a scarf around her neck and was not breathing.
They believed her.
"The medical examination that both the ER doctors as well as the PICU doctors could not rule that out as a cause and if it's an accident, it's an accident," said Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Ken Cotter. "That's what preliminarily it had been determined."
DCS also interviewed Crockett about what happened, Wide said.
Sometime after the incident the state took over custody of Alaiyah. Police said she's now in a "vegetative state" and only has 20 percent of her brain capacity.
According to court documents, Crockett admitted to investigators over the weekend that her original story was a lie and she used the scarf to strangle Alaiyah until the little girl stopped breathing.
She then told investigators she panicked and called 911.
Then police say it happened again Saturday.
Crockett admitted to investigators she got mad at Micahyah's father for not answering text messages so she smothered the baby with a shirt, threw him to the ground, kicked and hit him. She noticed the baby was no longer crying, then played a video game on her cell phone before calling 911.
"Some of the stuff she did is just unreal," said Martika Binion, a paternal cousin to Micahyah and Alaiyah.
Binion sobbed while a judge read Crockett's charges in court Tuesday.
"That's what made it all the more real is the fact that he read the charges and the blank look on her face, it just didn't do anything for me. It just upset me even more," Binion said.
When asked what she would say to Nyesha Crockett if she had the chance, Binion first replied, "To be completely honest, there are no words to say. There's no, 'Why did you do it?' There's no when, there's no how, there's no why didn't you call anybody? There's a lot of what ifs and ifs, ands or buts about it but the things she did are just out of this world."
Court documents say Crockett admitted she was mad at the father of her children for leaving her alone with the kids but prosecutors said in both cases, two other adults were in the house.
Investigators made it clear at a news conference Monday they have no other persons of interest in the case.
"She made a determination twice to commit this act," said Metro Homicide Commander Tim Corbett. "She is responsible. Nobody else. Is that clear?"
WSBT filed an Access to Public Records Act request with the City of South Bend Tuesday requesting initial fire department and police department reports from the February incident involving baby Alaiyah.
In a written response, the city's legal department said those documents are protected by medical privacy laws and will not be released.
Father, grandmother speak about Baby Micah's death
Until today, the family of Baby Micah has been quiet on the matter of his death, but earlier today the boy's father, Micahyah Greer, spoke with WSBT about the pain and shock he has dealt with the past few days.
Greer went to his mother's house this morning to take the growing memorial for his son out of the rain.
"I never thought I'd see the day where I'd bury my own child," Greer said.
As neighbors brought more balloons and animals, the father watched silently from across the street.
"He loved to smile," Greer said, remembering his son. "He loved to play, he loved to dance, he was just a joyful baby."
Greer thought back on their time together the morning Baby Micah, as he was known, was injured.
"I took my son on the walk in the stroller and he was just smiling and laughing, playing with everybody. He was a joyful baby. He was loveable. Everybody loved him."
Like many others, Greer is questioning what drove Nyesha Crockett to allegedly abuse her baby. The father claims he never saw the abuse, but he wants to know why.
"I ain't never seen it," Greer said, "but like right now, I just wanna know why. That's all I want to know."
The father thanked everyone for their support and prayers, and has a plea to other parents:
"Just be there for your kids, all the time, no matter what, just be there. Life ain't promised tomorrow, you never know what's going to happen, just stay there."