A 19-year-old woman was arrested in a murder case Tuesday just over one week after her 2-month-old daughter was found dead at an Amarillo, Texas home.
Investigators with the Amarillo Police Department claim that they were able to determine as early as Feb. 21, the date of the alleged murder, that Ashley Kay Harper had injured the baby. That evening, around 6:25 p.m., officers said, investigators responded to the W. Central Avenue residence where the newborn had stopped breathing. It was apparent that the baby was already dead.
“A two-month-old female was deceased at that location when responders arrived. As with all infant deaths, the Amarillo Police Department Homicide Unit was called to investigate the incident,” the police department said. “During the investigation, evidence was found to place the mother, 19-year-old Ashley Harper, under arrest for Injury to a Child.”
Although it is not entirely clear what investigators learned after Feb. 21 about Harper’s alleged actions, a murder warrant was issued in the case seven days later. KVII has since identified the victim as Eva Salene Diaz. The report said investigators believe that Harper hit the baby in the head with her hand. The defendant allegedly confessed when questioned.
Potter County Detention Center records reviewed by Law&Crime show that Harper remains held there on a bond of $750,000 for the murder charge. After initially claiming Harper was indicted, investigators noted that case is still in a pre-indictment stage and that a warrant was issued Tuesday to upgrade the charge from felony injury to a child to murder.
Texas law says the first-degree injury to a child charge applies when an offender “intentionally” or “knowingly” causes serious bodily injury to a victim under the age of 14. While that charge alone is punishable by five to 99 years in prison upon conviction, the murder allegation could turn this into a capital case.
Jail records listed Amarillo defense attorney Mike Warner as Harper’s counsel in the case. Law&Crime reached out to Warner’s office for comment on the case.
An obituary for baby Eva said that she was “born at 5:51am on December 7, 2022 weighing a healthy 6 pound and 9 ounces with a full head of hair and a big smile.”
“She was incredibly energetic and happy baby who loved her parents. She was spoiled and loved her animals. Her smile lit up the room with its bright and precious glow,” the obituary said.
The Rector Funeral Home said that the baby’s funeral was Wednesday morning.
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