Local News

Mother relieved police investigating baby's death

Posted April 15, 2011 5:07 p.m. EDT
Updated April 15, 2011 7:03 p.m. EDT

— A Fayetteville woman said Friday that a police investigation into her baby daughter's death confirmed her worst fears.

Police said Thursday that they are investigating the Dec. 5 death of 9-month-old Somiah Renee Prieto as a homicide after an autopsy determined the child died of a "non-accidental head injury."

"I knew right away something wasn't right," Andrea Prieto said.

Prieto and her husband, both specialists in the Army, went out on Dec. 4 to celebrate her birthday and took Somiah to a babysitter's house. Prieto said the woman had cared for the child since she was about 3 months old.

"I never thought the first time I hear 'I love you' from my daughter would be the last," Prieto said, recalling what Somiah told her that night as she left the sitter's house.

Prieto said the sitter briefly left Somiah home with her boyfriend, and police said paramedics were called to the home, in the 2600 block of Emerson Avenue, because the infant was unresponsive.

The birthday party was interrupted by what Prieto said was the worst phone call she's ever received.

"Somiah fell off the futon and hit her head, and the ambulance is coming and taking her to Cape Fear," she said.

Police said the 911 caller gave a dispatcher the wrong address, and it took paramedics 12 minutes to arrive. Doctors revived the child, but she died the next day at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center.

"I wouldn't wish it on anybody. It's the worst thing you can experience," Prieto said.

Somiah was a happy baby, her mother said.

"She woke up with a smile. She always loved to play," Prieto said.

No charges have been filed in the case, but Prieto said the police investigation provides some relief for her.

"Now, justice will be served. Now, my daughter can rest in peace," she said.