Mom charged with murder of her baby
Jacqualyn L. Schmidt's daughter died of blunt force injury to her head, a medical examiner's report states.
April 12, 2002
The young mother of two charged last week with child abuse after her baby daughter died is facing first-degree murder charges after an autopsy showed the child died of blunt force injury to her head.
Jacqualyn L. Schmidt, 20, was ordered held in the Pima County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail at an initial Justice Court appearance yesterday on the murder charge. She also is being held on an additional $200,000 bail set earlier on the child-abuse charge.
Schmidt, manager of a midtown apartment complex, was rebooked at the jail Wednesday afternoon on the murder charge after the results of laboratory tests conducted as part of an autopsy came back this week, said Detective Lt. Brett Klein.
The autopsy did not immediately determine a cause of death for Schmidt's 4-month-old daughter, Serena, Klein said.
Klein said Serena did not show signs of a pattern of early abuse and the baby's year-old sister also did not show any signs of abuse. The older girl was turned over to state Child Protective Services workers and has been removed from the home Schmidt shared with a boyfriend, said Sgt. Judy Altieri, a police spokeswoman.
"The baby had some injuries that are consistent with shaken baby syndrome," Altieri said last week.
There was not enough evidence at the time of the arrest to conclude Serena died because she was shaken, Altieri said last week.
Common symptoms of shaken baby syndrome are brain and retinal hemorrhages, brain swelling, skeletal fractures and bruises.
Although the baby had injuries consistent with being shaken, Altieri said yesterday the county medical examiner's office concluded it was a blunt force injury to the outside of Serena's head that killed the child. Altieri said it has not been determined what kind of object caused the injury.
Klein would not say precisely when detectives believe Serena was injured, but that it "was while the mother was the sole caretaker of the child."
Klein said he did not know why the suspected shaking incident took place.
Schmidt was arrested on the child-abuse charge April 3 after Serena died at Tucson Medical Center that day, Altieri said.
Police were called to the Schmidt home in the 1800 block of South Irving Avenue the morning of April 2.
Jacqualyn Schmidt, her daughters and her boyfriend, Kevin Hall, were at the home when the call to police was made at 8:49 a.m., according to a police report. The report was obtained under an Arizona public records request.
According to the report Schmidt's year-old daughter woke her, and Schmidt went to the crib and noticed Serena "was not breathing."
"Serena looked blue and was not moving," according to the report.
Altieri said Hall, who is a medical assistant student, is not the father of either child.
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