Benton Harbor Mother Faces Murder Charges

By: Marcie Kobriger Email
By: Marcie Kobriger Email

A Benton Harbor woman is accused of murdering her own child. Twenty-one-year-old Shaneka Washington is now charged with felony murder, following the death of her 10-month-old child, Janiya.

Early Tuesday morning, Washington called 911 saying Janiya was having trouble breathing.

Washington was arrested after a doctor determined the cause of the baby's injury was blunt force trauma to the head.

After two days in the hospital and emergency surgery, Janiya passed away Thursday night, prompting the county prosecutor to file murder charges against Shaneka Washington.

“Being parents and having kids, I think I can speak for all of my assistants, you can’t help but shake your head and wonder what's wrong with people,” says Berrien County Prosecuting attorney, Arthur Cotte of the case.

Cotter tells NewsCenter 16 the allegations against Washington don't end with the death of her 10-month-old child. Janiya's twin, and her two and three year old brother and sister may have suffered at the hands of their mother as well. “There does appear to be evidence of abuse to those three kids as well. So it’s likely were going to add some additional charges once that investigation is complete,” Cotter says.

The three children are out of Washington’s home, and are now in the hands of Berrien County Child Protective Services.

Cotter says their ensured safety is the one positive thing to come out of the very dismal case. “The other three kids are in protective custody now, and they won’t be subjected to more abuse; that's the silver lining,” he said.

Janiya died from a brain hemorrhage, at Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo.

Shaneka Washington did sign off to donate the baby's organs.

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