Infant said victim of shaken syndrome
An 11-month-old infant, whose mother and father both face murder charges in her June death, was the victim of blunt force trauma and shaken baby syndrome, East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III alleged Wednesday.
Moore said it’s too early to say whether his office will seek the death penalty against Larry Leflore, 26, who was indicted Wednesday on charges of first-degree murder and second-degree cruelty to a juvenile in the killing of Aaliyah Heard.
“It is one we’re strongly considering due to the injuries to the child,” he said of the possibility of pursuing the death penalty in the case against Leflore.
At the time of his June 27 arrest, Leflore was accused of hitting the baby and throwing her after she refused to eat grits.
He denied striking the girl but was implicated by her older brother.
The child’s extensive injuries included cigarette burns on her body.
Her mother, Ashley Heard, has admitted to knowing about cigarette burns on her daughter’s body, according to an affidavit of probable cause, but she told detectives she “felt that the injuries would go away.”
Heard, 28, was indicted Sept. 11 on charges of second-degree murder and second-degree cruelty to a juvenile.
She faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison if found guilty of second-degree murder. Heard has pleaded not guilty.
Moore said the grand jury heard all of the evidence and obviously decided there was a difference in culpability between Leflore and Heard.
An autopsy revealed Aaliyah had a broken collarbone, bleeding on the brain, hemorrhaging in an eye and injuries to the anus.
“At this point no charges have been filed regarding sexual contact between them (Leflore and Aaliyah), just physical abuse,” Moore said when asked about some of the child’s injuries. He described some of her injuries as shaken baby syndrome-type injuries.
The grand jury indictments allege Leflore, 1819 Carolina St., and Heard, 836 Iberville St., committed second-degree battery to their daughter “on or about July 27, 2012, to June 20, 2013.”
The Department of Children and Family Services has said it had no substantiated reports of abuse or neglect before the baby’s death.
Aaliyah’s parents rushed her to the hospital June 21 because of “breathing difficulty,” according to court records.
They flagged down an Emergency Medical Services vehicle en route, which took the baby to Baton Rouge General Medical Center-Mid City.
Medical personnel spotted what appeared to be cigarette burns on the baby’s extremities, according to an affidavit. Aaliyah died the next morning.
Shane Evans, an investigator with the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner’s Office, has said the child appeared to have been struck in the head by a human hand. Several marks, bruises and abrasions discovered during the autopsy also pointed to a history of abuse.
Leflore did admit at the time of his arrest to hitting Heard because he claimed she was not properly caring for the child, according to an affidavit of probable cause.
Heard had told authorities that two days before her baby’s death, Aaliyah was trying to stand when Leflore “became angry and slapped her legs so hard that it caused her to fall and hit the left side of her head on the floor,” the affidavit says.
A sanity hearing is scheduled Dec. 2 in Heard’s case.
Her attorney, Robert Tucker, said he asked state District Judge Richard Anderson to appoint a sanity commission so there will be an independent opinion from court-appointed doctors who examined her.
“I always like to have that as a prerequisite,” Tucker said Wednesday. “It is pretty much something that must be done in cases like this.”
Leflore’s case also has been assigned to Anderson.