Adopted mother charged with cruelty 1 year after death of special needs teen

Adopted mother charged with cruelty 1 year after death of special needs teen

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The adopted mother of a special needs child was arrested for second-degree cruelty a little less than a year after the child's death. Deputies say an autopsy report showed signs of alleged abuse.

According to the probable cause report submitted by the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office, deputies arrested Mechell D. Hayden, 52, of Baker on March 30, 2016. She was released the following day after posting a $37,000 bond.

The autopsy was completed on October 28, 2015. However, a warrant for Hayden's arrest was not issued until March 15, 2016.

The report notes that Hayden's 15-year-old child was found dead on June 15, 2015. The child was adopted by Hayden when she was 1-year-old.

"The victim was a special needs child, and was partially blind due to shaken baby syndrome, caused by her biological mother," the deputy noted in the probable cause report. "As the victim matured she developed the following illnesses: seizures, cerebral palsy, autism, brain damage, bi-polar, and psoriasis. Her verbal skills were not at her current age level, but consistent with that of someone approximately 5 years of age."

Investigators with the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner's Office concluded that the teen's primary cause of death was due to complications from the injuries she sustained at the hand of her mother when she was a child. However, the report additionally notes that malnutrition was also a contributing factor for her death. It also noted that the teen had marks "consistent with the use of physical restraints."

"She had several contusions on her right and left leg, as well as scars, scratch marks, scabs, and contusions on her face and arms," the deputy noted. "Her hands were wrapped with ace cloth bandages and the skin located underneath that bandage was extremely raw."

The report notes that on the day the teen died, she was placed in her bedroom at 9 a.m. and was found to be not breathing by Hayden at 11 a.m.

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