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Former Day Care Owner Convicted in Infant's Death


The former owner of a Norman day care facility has been convicted of first degree murder in the death of a 5-month-old baby left in her care. 

Melissa D. Clark, 47, of Noble, was charged with murder after the baby was rushed from her facility to the hospital with injuries that left her 95 percent brain dead. The baby girl died of her injuries within a few hours of being taken off life support.

When questioned about how the infant sustained the fatal injuries, Clark reportedly gave several different stories. She first claimed that she had been giving the baby a bottle and accidentally dropped her on the kitchen floor. She says the child hit head-first on the tile. She also said that later in the day, she was stressed because the other children in the home were arguing and fighting, and the baby was crying. As a result of her frustration, she says, she threw the infant into a bouncy seat that had a metal bar attached. The baby's body hit the bar, and she slid to the floor. Clark reportedly told authorities that she picked the baby up and wrapped her in a blanket before placing the girl back in the bouncy seat. Later, she says, as the infant grew sleepy, she removed her from the seat and placed her on the floor.

A short time later, Clark said, she heard the baby making choking noises, and found her limp and unresponsive, breathing once every 10-15 seconds. She called 9-1-1 and performed CPR on the infant. She told investigators that she may have shaken the baby when she found her unresponsive in an attempt to revive her.

Medical personnel said that, while incidents Clark described may have happened, they do not account for the baby's injuries. They said the girl's injuries were consistent with Shaken Baby Syndrome and were caused by the rapid and sustained forward and backward acceleration and deceleration of the child's head.

Clark's defense argued that she is not responsible for the baby's injuries, and they say the injuries could have been sustained in someone else's care in the days before her death. 

However, after deliberating for four hours, a jury rejected her defense and convicted Clark of first degree murder. The jury recommended a sentence of life in prison. Clark's sentencing is set for December 13.



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