Father arrested on murder count in 5-year-old daughter’s death

The father of a 5-year-old girl who died in August from injuries she suffered during a shaken baby syndrome incident that occurred more than five years ago has been arrested, Baton Rouge police reported Thursday.

Police arrested Terry Edwards, 32, of Baton Rouge, in the Aug. 22, 2013, death of his daughter, Taliyah Edwards, and booked him into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on a count of second-degree murder, said Cpl. Don Coppola Jr., a police spokesman.

Taliyah Edwards was 3 months old in April 2008 when she was admitted to the pediatric emergency unit of Our Lady of the Lake Hospital, Coppola said.

Doctors determined the infant had suffered a stroke sometime prior to her visit and thought her injuries may have been a result of shaken baby syndrome, but they weren’t sure, Coppola said.

Police did some follow-up work, Coppola said, but Edwards was eventually returned to her parents. During the next five years, no reports were made of child abuse or neglect involving Taliyah Edwards, he said.

Then in August 2013, Taliyah Edwards died as a result of a terminal seizure, said Dr. Beau Clark, the East Baton Rouge Parish coroner.

During her autopsy, medical examiners traced the cause of the seizures back to a traumatic brain injury that occurred in the infant’s youth, Clark said, which enabled him to rule her death a homicide.

“She suffered a brain injury in the early years of life, which led to a seizure disorder,” Clark said. “She died as a result of a terminal seizure.”

Clark said neurologists will say that it’s not uncommon for young children who suffer traumatic brain injuries to develop ultimately fatal seizure disorders.

Clark compared the case to that of Lennard Lewis Sr., who died in September of 2012 after living 20 years with a bullet lodged in his head. Clark also ruled Lewis’ death a homicide, but investigators have not yet gathered enough leads to make any arrests in the 1992 case.

Lewis, 37, died from a terminal seizure after being shot in the head on Nov. 13, 1992, at Maplewood Street Park during a dispute. He lived for 20 years with the bullet lodged in his brain because surgery at the time was too risky and doctors were not sure they could find the bullet.

He began having seizures about 10 years ago, and they increased in frequency and intensity until he died from one on Sept. 23, 2012.

Clark ruled Lewis’ death a homicide because he developed a seizure disorder from the bullet lodged in his brain.

It wasn’t clear whether the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office is investigating Lewis’ death, said Casey Rayborn Hicks, a Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman.