*Shaken baby syndrome is being linked to the death of a Washington state teenager whose mother says suffered all of her life as a result of being violently shaken as an infant.
A Seattle-area prosecutor said on Wednesday he would most likely charge her biological father in her death.
The teen, 15-year-old Baylee Duggins of Tacoma, died on Sunday from respiratory failure linked to pneumonia, according to her mother and the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Her death has been ruled a homicide because she was “shaken as an infant,” the coroner’s office said.
Pierce County records show that Christopher Schwanz, the girl’s biological father, was convicted of second-degree child abuse in 2000 for the crime. The violent act left the girl severely physically and mentally impaired.
Once evidence comes in from the medical examiner, Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Lindquist said he expects to bring a second-degree murder charge against Schwanz.
Duggins’ mother, Shannon Stiles, said her daughter was a normal, healthy baby before she was shaken. The young girl spent her life confined to a wheelchair. She was legally blind, and was never able to talk, Stiles said.
“She was totally dependant,” Stiles said. “And when she got sick, it was harder for her to heal.”
Shaken baby syndrome, also known as abusive head trauma, is the leading cause of child abuse deaths in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
At least one in four babies violently shaken dies, the CDC said. Those who survive are at risk for lifelong brain damage and other complications.
Stiles said she wants prosecutors to bring murder charges against the child’s father.
“I want justice for Baylee,” she said. “That’s what it needs to be. She could never fight for herself, so we have to fight for her,” Stiles said.
Schwanz could not be reached for comment about his daughter’s death or the possible new charges.