Lewis County Watch

A 42-year-old Thurston County woman remains jailed with bail set at $750,000 after her arrest Wednesday on suspicion of second-degree murder following the death of her 3-month-old daughter.

Erin Elizabeth Hammonds appeared in Thurston County Superior Court Thursday where prosecutors asked for bail to be set at $1 million based on her criminal history, which includes 13 instances when she failed to appear for hearings.

Commissioner Rebekah Zinn presided over the hearing, finding there was probably cause to charge Hammonds and setting her bail at $750,000.

Detectives were called to the 1800 block of Carpenter Road Southeast on Tuesday, Jan. 28, after Hammonds said she had found the girl deceased in bed.

Court documents detail Hammond’s account of the day of her daughter’s death. She said she and her daughter were picked up by a friend named Bob in order for Hammonds to make it to a court appearance. When the girl became fussy, she noted that they stopped the car and she got out and rocked her. By the time the girl was calm, Hammonds said she had already missed her court date, so Hammonds and the baby girl were dropped off at home.

Hammonds said her daughter, born five weeks premature last October, was teething but was fine after the morning trip and slept “almost all day.” She had multiple feedings and diaper changes, Hammonds said. That afternoon, the girl fell asleep in a child swing, but awoke crying again at about 3:30 p.m.

Hammonds said she placed the girl in a horseshoe-shaped pillow on her bed before she herself fell asleep on the bed.

She said she awoke and noticed that the baby was lying on her side with her face turned toward a pillow. When she picked the girl up, she said she could tell she was no longer breathing. She told detectives that she picked the baby up and ran screaming for her neighbor to call 911. Hammonds began performing CPR as instructed by a dispatcher until medics arrived.

Hammonds later spoke to a deputy coroner and provided the same account of the events as she had provided to the detective, according to court documents.

The autopsy brought additional concerns to light, though.

On Sunday, Feb. 2, a detective was notified that the autopsy had identified at least three separate fractures to the infant’s skull. The doctor who performed the autopsy told the detective that while there were no visible injuries to the infant’s head, the “fractures were very apparent when looking at the skull itself.” The doctor said the significant injuries were sustained without any externally observable marks.

A child abuse expert and the doctor conducting the autopsy on Feb. 4 showed the detective an area of pooled blood that showed the infant had been “violently shaken to the point where this could cause her death.”

Both medical professionals said it was a case of “shaken baby” syndrome.

Detectives met with Hammonds Feb. 5 at the Thurston County Coroner’s Office. She was adamant no one else was near the baby and that the results of the autopsy were false. After being advised of her rights, she provided an interview during which she was adamant she did not cause the death of the girl and that no one else was around her.

Hammonds has a criminal history dating back to 1999 that includes theft, harassment, malicious mischief, vehicle prowls, DUIs and domestic violence assault, among other crimes.

An arraignment has been set for 9 a.m. Feb. 18. There will be a review hearing at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 10.

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