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Woman accused of abuse that killed her baby in Wichita Falls

Apr 09, 2024Apr 09, 2024

A mother who allegedly covered her baby with blankets and pillows purportedly because he liked it dark when he slept is suspected of causing his death by suffocation, heat stroke or something else in 2021 at a Wichita Falls home, according to allegations in court documents.

Akilah Jeanette Boone, 21, of Dallas has been charged with injury to a child in connection with her son's death Jan. 21, 2021, court documents show.

Boone was being held Thursday in the Wichita County Detention Center on $200,000 in bonds, according to online jail records.

The first-degree felony is punishable by up to life in prison. Anyone accused of a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty in court.

A Wichita Falls police affidavit for an arrest warrant detailed the allegations against Boone.

Police responded to a home in the 2100 block of Avenue H for a report of an unresponsive child Jan. 21, 2021, according to the allegations in the affidavit.

Boone was there at the home with the 7-month-old child found in a bedroom. Police noticed it was hot in the home, and the heat was set to 90 degrees although it was 50 degrees outside. A heater was on in the bedroom.

First responders arrived and determined the child was dead. At the police station, Boone told investigators she drove the child's father to work at 7:30 a.m. that day, and the baby was with her.

When they got home, she put the child down for a nap, Boone told police. She fed him at 11:30 a.m. and put him back in his bassinet. That morning, he was coughing and had a 99-degree temperature, but she didn't give him any medication.

Boone took a nap and woke up to take a shower, she told police. She checked on the baby at 12:40 p.m. She pulled the covers off of the infant and discovered him face down in the bassinet and unresponsive. She called 911.

Police interviewed the child's father and confirmed through him and his employer that he was at work at the time of the child's death.

Family members and others who knew Boone told police she would cover the baby with blankets and pillows in the bassinet, and they had warned her that was a sleep hazard, and the child could be smothered.

Boone told one witness the baby liked it dark so he could sleep. In addition, witnesses told police Boone and the baby's father have left the child unattended while they were gone from the home.

The baby's body was sent to the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences for an autopsy. The medical examiner found a 2 1/4 inch hemorrhage to the right side of the child's head and other hemorrhages.

Dr. Suzanne Dakil, a Dallas specialist in child-abuse pediatrics, reviewed the autopsy and other information. She found the child had injuries, including bruising to his ear, lip and scalp, that raised concerns his death was related to abuse.

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Child Protective Services also probed the child's death. CPS had previously investigated Boone and the child and discussed sleep safety with the baby's parents during a home visit.

The agency told the parents of the dangers of putting blankets and other objects with the child while he slept, and they signed a Keeping Children Safe acknowledgment form on July 21, 2020.

CPS reports show that Boone admitted that the child was covered with blankets the day he was found dead, as well as that his bassinet was directly under an air vent.

Police believe the autopsy report and Dakil's report indicated Boone had a pattern of abusing the child, according to allegations. She unnecessarily covered the baby with blankets and pillows while he slept, contributing to his death.

Failing to heed warnings about the practice showed Boone's disregard for her baby's safety and welfare. In addition, the thermostat was set at an unreasonable temperature the day the baby died, according to allegations in an affidavit.

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Trish Choate, enterprise watchdog reporter for the Times Record News in Wichita Falls, covers education, courts, breaking news, investigative projects and more. Contact Trish with news tips at [email protected]. Her Twitter handle is @Trishapedia.