A Spokane Valley mother accused of punching and killing her 6-month-old daughter in a bout of frustration and anger Monday initially told detectives that she had tripped and dropped the infant.
An emergency room doctor at MultiCare Valley Hospital, however, noted that the baby, Skarrlette Stedeford, had severe head injuries that were not consistent with such an incident.
Deputies with the Spokane Valley Police Department then arrested Skye M. Metcalf, 27, on Monday afternoon. Prosecutors charged her Wednesday with second-degree murder in Spokane District Court. A judge set her bond at $1 million.
An autopsy performed Tuesday found the baby suffered multiple impacts to her face and scalp that were not consistent with accidental injuries. The medical examiner’s office ruled the death a homicide due to “complex skull fractures from blunt impacts to the head.”
As detectives questioned Metcalf again about her account of the baby’s death, she continued with what police described in a news release as a “fabricated story regarding the injury and subsequent death of her baby.”
According to court documents filed in an unrelated custody battle, Metcalf struggled with post-partem depression and bipolar disorder. She attempted to leave Skarrlette with a woman she knows while she was seeking treatment. Social workers with the state Child Protective Services intervened, saying the organization was afraid the baby’s father, 24-year-old Anthony R. Stedeford, would attempt to take the baby from the woman.
The woman later attempted to gain temporary custody, saying she was concerned Skarrlette was neglected, emotionally and mentally abused by Metcalf and Stedeford. She also mentioned that Skarrlette and Metcalf had lived with her before and that she had financially supported them.
Metcalf wrote that she no longer wanted to grant temporary custody to the woman, saying that she felt better after changing her medication and writing that “A child should live with their parents regardless if one parent has depression.”
Metcalf also wrote that she shouldn’t have to give up custody unless there was an emergency, and that with state help and support from her family she believed Skarrlette would thrive.
In the criminal case filed Wednesday, detectives allege Metcalf said she became frustrated with Stedeford. After an argument, according to investigators, she forcefully pushed the baby’s face into a bassinet.
She also admitted to punching the baby twice in the back of the head, according to documents. Detectives asked her to re-create the scene with a life-like doll and found that Metflaff punched the doll in the same locations where the skull fractures had occurred.
A short time after Metcalf told investigators she had punched the baby, according to court documents, she said Skarrlette stopped crying, became lethargic and then wouldn’t respond.
Stedeford was not present during the assault, she told police. She said she called him and made up the story about falling and dropping the baby. They took Skarrlette to the hospital together.
Detectives questioned Stedeford about the death and Metcalf’s account. While he was not detained in relation to the homicide investigation, police arrested him Monday for violating a no-contact order issued because of domestic violence.