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Sitter, 27, charged in baby’s death

– A Fort Wayne woman has been charged with neglecting an infant who died nearly a year ago from a severe infection.

Anika R. Howard, 27, was baby-sitting the infant, a friend’s son, the night of March 11, 2012, according to court papers. She fell asleep in bed with the baby, who was about 2 months old, and when she awoke the next morning, her arm was covering the boy’s face and he was not breathing, court papers said.

Howard called 911 dispatchers, and emergency workers were sent to the home. They tried to resuscitate the boy, and he was taken to a hospital where he later died, court papers said.

Howard told city police that before baby-sitting the boy, she drank alcohol and used marijuana in the evening and that she used cocaine the previous day. Tests results confirmed she had the two drugs in her system, court papers stated.

She also told police that between 2 and 3 a.m. March 12, the boy awoke crying.

Thinking he was hungry, she carried him downstairs to feed him a bottle of formula, court papers said.

Feeling groggy, she fell on the stairs, landed on her back and slipped down three steps. In doing so, the boy’s head hit three steps, and he started crying. He cried for about 20 minutes and then went to sleep, Howard told police.

“I should have called last night when I fell and I thought he was hurt,” she told police. “He had to hurt somewhere because he was hollering.”

An autopsy found that the boy died from sepsis, a severe infection, caused by pneumonia. The autopsy also showed that he had head trauma, court papers stated.

The pathologist who performed the autopsy told police that if Howard had taken the boy to a hospital after falling on the stairs, doctors would have been able to diagnose the boy’s pneumonia and possibly save his life, according to court papers.

Howard, of the 7900 block of Serenity Drive, was charged Thursday with felony neglect of a dependent. She had not yet been arrested Friday evening.

In 2008, Howard pleaded guilty in Allen Superior Court to misdemeanor counts of domestic battery and criminal mischief. In a separate Allen County case, she pleaded guilty in 2009 to a felony charge of battery.