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Friday, November 21, 2014

Death of Columbia infant leads to second-degree murder charges

An autopsy showed signs of blunt trauma and shaking.

An 8-month-old Columbia infant died Friday after sustaining massive blunt trauma to the head.

Finley Steele’s mother, 24-year-old Anna Steele of Columbia, and Steele’s boyfriend, 31-year-old Cody Baker of Ashland, were each arrested on charges of second-degree murder, according to a Columbia Police Department news release.

Steele is being held on a $1-million cash bond. Baker’s bond is $2 million.

At 2:50 a.m. Friday, CPD officers and emergency medical services responded to a 911 call on Woodridge Drive. The caller reported that Finley had stopped breathing. She was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.

“We got called to the residence by the mother, who said the infant wasn’t breathing,” CPD spokesman Joe Bernhard said.

The probable cause statement in the case indicates Baker awoke Steele and told her to call 911.

At the scene, investigating officers reported finding items soiled with fresh blood, according to the statement. An autopsy revealed that Finley had sustained massive blunt trauma to the head and showed signs of being shaken.

The statement noted that both a witness and Steele had noticed signs of abuse to the infant at least two weeks prior to her death.

Finley had a bruise across her face, which Baker said was caused by her falling onto a rail of her crib, though Steele did not believe such an injury could be caused by a fall. The witness reportedly confronted Steele and Baker about pulling a blanket over Finley’s face and head.

In the statement, Steele said she suspected Baker was abusing Finley, but she did not confront him because she was afraid of how he would react.

The investigation is active and ongoing.

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