Woman accused of shaking baby in West Palm Beach

Kyanna Johnson (PBSO)

A 28-year-old woman was arrested last week for reportedly shaking a 9-month-old baby to near death, the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office said.

A detective responded to St. Mary's Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) in reference to a baby with multiple skull fractures, according to the sheriff's office. The injuries resulted in brain hemorrhaging, for which she underwent brain surgery. During the operation, surgeons found a massive blood clot "possibly caused by prior trauma to the head."

Kyanna Johnson, the baby's caregiver, said while she was giving the baby a bath on Mar. 18, she was sitting in 2 inches of water when she fell back and hit her head on the tub, according to the sheriff's office.

Johnson said she noticed a difference in the baby's behavior, beginning the day she allegedly hit her head, the sheriff's office said. Throughout the week, Johnson said she noticed a change in the girl's sleeping and eating patterns. The girl was crying more than usual. Johnson initially thought that maybe she had a cold or was going through a growth spurt.

According to Johnson, the fussiness turned to hysterical crying on Saturday, Mar. 24. Then, on Sunday, Mar. 25, the baby woke up around 8 or 9 a.m. crying hysterically, according to the sheriff's office. The only thing that comforted her was holding her or feeding her baby food. Johnson thought she might have an ear infection, teething or something, and was going to take her to the doctors on Monday morning.

The baby fell back asleep around noon and slept through the evening, the sheriff's office said. Even though the baby was still sleeping around 8 or 9 p.m., Johnson said she wasn't concerned that she was sleeping so long because of the change in her sleeping pattern and the fact that she may have worn herself out from crying.

When Johnson went to check on her, she said she noticed her diaper was wet, according to the sheriff's office. When she turned her over to change her diaper, she heard the baby "moaning really soft, pitiful cry like a kitten or something." Johnson also noticed the baby's right eye was droopy and couldn't stay open. When she wiped the baby's eye with a washcloth, she saw she couldn't keep her eye open and she was very limp.

Johnson said she got scared and called 911, according to the report.

The doctors later told Johnson the baby had blood clots on her brain and needed surgery to possibly remove some of her brain, the sheriff's office said. They also said the baby's condition was critical. When Johnson was asked how the baby got those injuries, she said she didn't know.

Johnson claimed she never struck the baby in the head, has never shaken her, nor dropped her, according to the sheriff's office. But on Mar. 28, a doctor's report revealed the baby had "massive retinal hemorrhages" in both eyes with choroidal ruptures in both eyes, with the right eye being worse. The most likely cause of this, according to the doctor's report, is severe shaking of the baby with whiplash injury to the neck and retina.

The report said no other possible explanation could account "for the severity of the trauma noticed in both eyes."

On Mar. 30, Johnson admitted to detectives to the shaking, claiming it was an accident, the sheriff's office said. Johnson told detectives that the baby wouldn't stop crying for the entire week, no matter what she did for her.

Through tears, she told them she didn't know what to do and on the night of Mar. 24, Johnson walked into the bedroom, picked her up from her crib and shook her, according to the arrest report.

Johnson said she didn't remember how long she shook her, but when she stopped shaking the baby, she was no longer crying, according to the sheriff's office. Johnson also admitted she was diagnosed with postpartum, but stopped taking her medications a few months ago.

Johnson was then placed under arrest for charges of aggravated child abuse. She is being held without bond.

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