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Dad who threw infant against a wall ‘4 or 5 times’ with ‘a great amount of force’ sentenced for murder

Steven Michael Strahm and Baby Scarlet (Jacksonville Sheriff's Office; GoFundMe)

Steven Michael Strahm and Baby Scarlet (Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office; GoFundMe)

A 28-year-old man in Florida will spend more than two decades behind bars after he admitted to brutally killing his 2-month-old daughter in 2020 by throwing the baby into a wall multiple times and then dropping her on her head.

Circuit Judge Jeb Branham on Tuesday ordered Steven Michael Strahm to spend 23.5 years in a state correctional facility for the horrific slaying of young Scarlet Strahm, court records reviewed by Law&Crime show.

Strahm last month pleaded guilty to one count each of second-degree murder and aggravated child abuse as part of a deal negotiated with prosecutors in the state attorney’s office. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors dropped a child neglect charge he had been facing.

According to court documents, Scarlet on Dec. 11, 2020, was brought to the emergency room at the University of Florida Health hospital after her mother saw the infant having a seizure. After tests showed that Scarlet was suffering from an internal brain bleed, authorities say that Strahm admitted to “accidentally dropping her” while her mother was at work. Scarlet was admitted into the facility’s intensive care unit for treatment.

An investigator with the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) prepared a narrative which was sent to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office for further investigation.  On Dec. 14, 2020, the case was assigned to the JSO Special Assault Unit.

A preliminary medical and risk assessment report prepared by the University of Florida Child Protection Team determined that Scarlet had sustained “abusive head trauma indicative of physical abuse” and a fractured knee that investigators said was indicative of physical abuse. She also showed signs of medical neglect.

Strahm was identified as the main suspect in the abuse case and was brought to the JSO Police Memorial Building for questioning where he allegedly confessed to inflicting the injuries on his infant daughter and was placed under arrest.

The portion of the probable cause affidavit for Strahm’s arrest that recounts his police interview remains redacted, but Judge Branham provided a summary of Strahm’s confession in a 2021 court order.

“The charges stem from allegations that [Strahm]: (1) threw [Scarlet] against a wall four or five times between Dec. 6, 2020 and Dec. 9, 2020 with a great amount of force and (2) dropped [Scarlet] on Dec. 11, 2020 causing her to hit her head; (3) failed to seek medical attention because he was fearful [redacted],” Branham wrote. “According to the probable cause affidavit, upon medical examination, the child suffered from head injuries and seizures sufficiently severe to cause anoxic injury to the left side of her brain.”

Anoxic brain injuries are caused by a complete lack of oxygen to the brain.

After spending two weeks in hospice care, Scarlet on the morning of Jan. 3, 2021, was pronounced dead. A subsequent autopsy performed by the Duval County Medical Examiner’s Office determined the infant’s manner of death to be a homicide caused by blunt impact head trauma.

Strahm, who had initially been charged with aggravated child abuse was then charged with Scarlet’s murder.

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Prior to the sentence being handed down, an attorney representing the family read a victim impact statement penned by the infant’s mother, Breeana Kilzer, Jacksonville CW affiliate WJXT reported.

“You broke me. You took the best part of me away and you broke me,” the statement reportedly said. “I never got to hear her giggle. I never got to watch her crawl or hear her first words or watch her take her first steps. She should be two and a half and probably be the most amazing person now but I’ll never know.”

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.