A 29-year-old Rosedale woman has been charged with murder in the death of her 11-month-old step-grandson, the Queens district attorney said.
Shanica Callaghan, who lives on 144th Avenue, was scheduled to be arraigned this week on a complaint charging her with second-degree murder, assault and endangering the welfare of a child. If convicted, she faces up to 25 years to life in prison.
“The defendant and her husband—the baby’s grandfather—had gained custody of the toddler after his mother began abusing drugs,” Queens DA Richard Brown said. “Sadly, one of his rescuers is now accused of killing him. In a heartbreaking turn of events, the baby boy that today should be learning how to walk and talk is dead and buried. His skull was fractured and there was bleeding on the brain and other horrible, unimaginable injuries.”
The child died as a result of abusive head trauma that is consistent with the baby being violently shaken, the DA said.
On Aug. 31, 2017 around 6 p.m., Callaghan and her husband, Clinton Callaghan, took Jeremiah Callaghan—who was 11 months old at the time—and the couple’s biological children to Brookville Playground. They returned home around 7:30 p.m. and the child appeared healthy. The defendant claimed that while she was alone with Jeremiah in the house, she changed his diaper, gave him a bottle, and that when she burped him, he began to vomit and had difficulty breathing.
The baby was rushed to Jamaica Hospital in cardiac arrest and placed on a ventilator. He was transferred to Cohen Children’s Medical Center and died on Sept. 6. An autopsy showed that the child had suffered a traumatic brain injury with subdural hemorrhages, extensive retinal hemorrhages to both eyes, a detached left retina and extensive spinal cord damage. The findings and cause of death are consistent to abusive head trauma from violent and repetitive forces of being shaken in addition to blunt force trauma to the baby’s body and head, the DA said.