LAURENS, S.C. -- The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office said has charged a 21-year-old mother in connection with the death of her 16-month-old baby.
Investigators have charged Ashley Hepburn, of Cross Hill, with murder by child abuse. Originally, investigators charged Hepburn on Friday with abuse by inflicting great bodily injury on a child, but those charges were upgraded Sunday morning after the girl’s death.
Investigators said the incident occurred on Tuesday when officers responded to Self memorial Hospital in Greenwood after hospital staff alerted authorities about a potential child abuse victim being treated.
According to the incident report, the girl had visible injuries.
The child was later flown to Greenville Memorial Hospital due to extensive injuries. The baby died Saturday night at 10 p.m.
LCSO officials told FOX Carolina Hepburn caused the death of her daughter by battering her and causing irreparable damage to her brain.
The incident occurred at Hepburn’s home in Cross Hill, investigators said.
According to investigators, Hepburn's boyfriend, Richard Brandon Lewis, said he went to check on the victim at about 1:30 a.m. to see if the girl was OK. Lewis told investigators the child was lying face-down in the corner of her crib and did not seem responsive. Lewis told investigators he then picked up the child, found she was unresponsive, told Hepburn and then 911 was called.
Lewis also told investigators he knew the child was OK at about 11:30 p.m. on Monday.
When deputies spoke with Hepburn, she said she put the child in her crib to go to sleep at about 10:30. She also said the child had been fussy due to teething, but was OK overall.
Hepburn told authorities she fell asleep after putting the child down and was later awakened by Lewis, who was holding the unresponsive child.
Lewis, of Clinton, told police he does not live at the home, but said he stays there a few nights a week.
Police said there were a total of five people at the home when the abuse occurred, including the victim's grandmother and the grandmother's boyfriend.
The investigation is ongoing.