WHITE RIVER JUNCTION - A 21-year-old mother is facing felony charges after she allegedly confessed to beating a friend’s 21-month-old daughter to the point that the little girl was hospitalized for four days with head injuries.
Brittany Wakefield of Bradford appeared in court Tuesday and pleaded innocent to a single felony count each of aggravated assault and cruelty to a child with serious injury resulting.
Wakefield was released on pre-trial conditions that prohibit her from caring for children except for supervised visits with her own young daughter.
Hartford Police began investigating Wakefield on the evening of January 25th after they received a call reporting that a toddler had been “beaten up” at an apartment on Hartford Avenue.
The parents of the injured toddler told police that Wakefield had been staying at the residence while she took college classes nearby and that she had been “approved as a caregiver” for their child by a child protection agency.
The couple told police that Wakefield’s own daughter was not present that evening and that Wakefield had been drinking “hard lemonade,” but they did not hesitate to leave their own daughter in her care for approximately a half hour while they walked to a nearby store.
While they were out, the child’s mother received a cryptic text message from Wakefield saying “That girl is not staying to drink.”
Concerned that someone else might have come over, the pair returned to the apartment where they said they found Wakefield outside on the porch smoking a cigarette and appearing to have difficultly standing due to her level of apparent intoxication, according to affidavits and sworn witness statements filed with the court.
The mother told police that she could hear her daughter “crying hysterically” inside her room and when she went to check on her she found the child “covered in blood” in her crib.
During a fight that broke out between the two women, which left them both with injuries, while police were still in the process of responding, Wakefield reportedly denied having done anything to the toddler. However, police said that during an interview a few weeks later Wakefield allegedly described drinking heavily, then “blacking out” and vaguely recalling that she might have struck the child repeatedly with a cellphone, Hartford Police Detective Thomas Howell wrote in his affidavit.
Police seized the phone in question and also took samples of what appeared to be dried blood from underneath Wakefield’s fingernails for DNA testing.
Doctors at the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center took over a hundred photos documenting “significant injuries” to the child, including “severe abrasions and massive amounts of bruising, with the entire left side of her face swollen to the point her left eye was swollen shut” along with “scratch marks and cuts over her entire head and ears (and) scratch marks and bruising over her entire upper body.”
Due to a brain bleed, the child remained hospitalized for four days before she was turned over to Vermont’s Department of Children and Families, the affidavit noted.
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