Teen mom suffocates newborn by shoving rock down child's throat, Denver Police say

Police say the teen tried to conceal her pregnancy

DENVER – A 16-year-old Denver girl is being charged with first-degree murder after police say she suffocated her newborn by shoving a rock down the child’s throat.

Denver Police arrested Alaya Dotson two days after police say she secretly gave birth to the child, identified as Amekah Dotson, at her Denver home on Sep. 8. Police say the teen suffocated the child about an hour after delivery.

The child's death was ruled a homicide by the Denver Office of the Medical Examiner, which released its findings Wednesday. Autopsy details were withheld. 

According to the statement of probable cause, released by Denver Police, the teen told police she didn't realize she was in labor when she woke up to use the bathroom at her home in the early morning hours of Sep. 8. While in the bathroom, she began to cough and sneeze, looked down and noticed she was giving birth.

After delivering Amekah, the teen told police she went to her bedroom and was “lying on the floor with baby right next to her." She said the “baby’s arms were moving back and forth, but she was not crying.”

At that point, Alaya said she wrapped the newborn in a blanket and carried her downstairs as her mother was waking up the other kids in the home so they could get ready for school. Alaya took Amekah outside to her backyard patio and held the child in her arms, the report read. 

While outside on the patio, police say the suspect told them she picked up a rock on pushed it down the baby’s throat with her thumb. She then “wrapped the baby in the blanket and set her down on the ground,” the report read.

Shortly after, police say Alaya’s mother, who police say was not aware that Alaya had just delivered a baby, eventually went outside to check on the teen. When the mother entered the patio, she noticed “a lot of blood on Alaya’s shirt.” The mother then “went toward the blanket because she noticed blood on the blanket but Alaya picked it up first and said she needed to wash it.” 

The suspect’s mother grabbed the blanket from Alaya, which caused the baby to fall to the ground. Alaya picked up the baby and told her mother the newborn was dead and then dropped the child to the ground as the suspect’s mother began walking back inside the home to call 911, according to the statement of probable cause.

Paramedics were called to the home in the 5800 block of Biscay Street around 7:30 a.m. after the frantic call to 911. The newborn was rushed to Children’s Hospital, where doctors removed the one-inch rock from the baby's throat. Amekah was pronounced dead around 8:15 a.m.

According to the report, the teen mom had appeared pregnant to her mother and others, but the teen denied she was pregnant when asked by her mother, saying she had regular periods. Alaya’s mother told police she knew her daughter was sexually active. The suspect told police the last person she had sexual intercourse with was her ex-boyfriend sometime in November of 2016.

Alaya is being charged as an adult and remains in custody. She is scheduled for a pretrial hearing Jan. 12, 2018. The police report did not include a possible motive. 

Officials who work with teen mothers say Colorado's Safe Haven law is designed to prevent tragedies like this. The law allows a parent to hand over a newborn to an employee at a fire station or hospital with no questions asked. 

"A mother who has been hiding her pregnancy can protect her secret while also protecting her baby," said Linda Prudhomme, executive director of Colorado Safe Haven for Newborns.

Prudhomme says 56 babies in Colorado have been saved by this law and nearly 4,000 nationwide.

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