Thurston County mother charged with murder in 3-month-old daughter's death

THURSTON COUNTY -- A 42-year-old woman is charged with murder after the coroner ruled her 3-month-old daughter's death is a homicide.

On Monday, Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney's office charged Erin Hammonds with second degree murder and two counts of child assault. Her next court appearance is Feb. 18.

Thurston County Sheriff's Office said detectives responded on Jan. 28 to a home in the 1800 block of Carpenter Road SE, where Hammonds said she found the baby dead in her bed.

Hammonds told detectives that she and her baby went down for a nap and when she woke up, her baby wasn't breathing. She said the baby's face was turned toward the horseshoe-shaped pillow she was sleeping on.

She called 911 and gave the infant CPR while waiting for medics to arrive. According to the deputy coroner on scene, the baby had no external signs of trauma.

The cause of death was not immediately known, but investigators pieced together more information as the Thurston County Coroner's Office completed the autopsy.

The manner of death was ruled a homicide, and authorities say the autopsy showed injuries consistent with shaken baby syndrome, including skull fractures in three places and pooled blood in the upper area of the baby's cervical spine.

Hammonds denied she caused her daughter's death. She told authorities that no one else was near her baby in the hours leading up to her death but that the results of the autopsy are false.

The mother is facing a second-degree murder charge. In court Thursday, her bail was set at $750,000, with the judge citing recent domestic violence assault convictions and failing to appear in court in the past.

Lt. Ray Brady with the sheriff's office confirmed the mother has had "prior law enforcement contact."

Despite losing custody of her older children in 2014 due to struggles with alcohol, according to court records, the woman's mother-in-law told Q13 News that she was "working hard to get her life straightened out" and that she was a good and patient mother to the infant.

The mother-in-law said she spent a good amount of time with her and her infant when the baby was born and said there's no way she's guilty of what she's being accused of.

"When you wake up and find your baby not breathing, you shake them, you try to do mouth to mouth, you do what you can to try to get them to wake up," she said. "So I'm sure that's how the child sustained any kind of injuries to her body, because her mother would never have done that, no."