Foster Mother Sentenced to Prison for Beating Infant with a Baby Bottle
GREAT FALLS—The United States Attorney’s Office announced that during a federal court session in Great Falls, Montana, on September 11, 2014, before U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris, SAMANTHA RENEE HEADCARRIER, 24, of Browning, was sentenced to a term of 120 months in prison, three years’ supervised release, and a special assessment of $100.
Headcarrier was sentenced because she assaulted an eight-month old baby. In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan G. Weldon, the government would have proven that Headcarrier “tossed” the baby on the bed. Headcarrier then spanked the baby and hit her on the back of the head with a baby bottle approximately two to three times. When interviewed, Headcarrier also admitted that on another occasion she hit the baby “like an adult.”
Headcarrier pleaded guilty to Assault Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury and Felony Child Abuse. In this case, the United States charged a ten-year statutory minimum because the crime of violence involved a child. Congress enacted this sentencing enhancement to ensure that crimes of violence against children were treated more harshly.
In a sentencing memorandum, Weldon told the Court, “This case is tragic. Even if the mandatory minimum did not apply, the conduct is reprehensible and justifies ten years of imprisonment . . . . While it is true that Headcarrier will be forced to endure ten years of prison, that punishment is minor when compared to the baby who will likely face a lifetime of obstacles as a result of Headcarrier’s actions.”
Despite all of the above, the baby in this case is now with many individuals who love and provide never-ending care. For example, the current caregivers are a family involved in law enforcement and the military within the Great Falls community. In a letter to the Court, one of those caregivers described her first contact with the baby as follows:
This little angel that was no bigger than a pillow was lying on an adult-size bed, unconscious and with two tubes pumping blood out of her head. She had bruises on her face and a ventilator helping her breathe. I have already had to step away twice from typing this, even though it’s brutal for me to relive this, it’s even more brutal for [the Court] NOT to hear her story.
The current caregiver then described how proud she will be when the baby can “walk, talk, sit, stand, or develop cognitive skills.” When that time arrives, the current caregiver told the Court that “the memory of a monster that stated, ‘I hit her like an adult,’ will be a distant memory.”
Another individual, who works at a daycare, described her daily interactions with the baby and requested that harsh consequences be imposed on Headcarrier.
Two things you will notice about [the baby] are her ever-smiling face and the fact that her legs are constantly moving. I believe she wants to walk. She sees the other children in her room moving around on their own and she can’t. She can’t crawl. She can’t get to the sitting position on her own. She had this taken from her.
Too many children are dying, or are crippled for life, because people can’t control themselves. Well, enough is enough. People need to be held accountable for their actions. Consequences need to be harsher. [The baby’s] consequences are harsh. She will never be the child she was before this happened.
The Court sentenced Headcarrier to ten years of imprisonment with three years of supervised release to follow. Because there is no parole in the federal system, the truth in sentencing guidelines mandate that Headcarrier will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, Headcarrier does have the opportunity to shorten the term of custody by earning credit for good behavior. However, this reduction will not exceed 15% of the overall sentence.
This investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.