A Fort Worth mother who has a history with Child Protective Services was behind bars and her infant daughter was in critical condition Wednesday, officials said, after she and the baby's father took the child to a Houston hospital with a fractured skull and bleeding brain.
"The baby is probably going to make it for the simple fact that she got medical attention," said Houston police investigator Matthew Lazar, who is working the case. "Is she going to be a normal person and have a normal quality of life? Probably not. This is a pretty bad case."
Dominque LaRue Lawrence, 18, and Daylan Royale Johnson, 25, both of Fort Worth, were in the Harris County Jail, accused of abusing their daughter, 7-month-old Daysia Johnson. Each has been charged with serious injury to a child, a first-degree felony punishable by up to life in prison. Bail was set at $50,000 each.
Officials said the couple took a bus to Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital on Sept. 1 after their daughter started having seizures. "It took them a little over two hours to get to the hospital," Lazar said. "That was a concern. Why take a bus instead of calling the ambulance?"
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Lazar said doctors discovered the baby had two skull fractures, rib fractures, scratches on her neck and hypoxia, a condition indicating that she had been deprived of oxygen. The couple could not explain Daysia's injuries but admitted she had been in their care, Lazar said.
"The dad said he tried to feed her, and she just went limp," Lazar said.
Lazar said the couple had been living in a Houston motel, and Johnson was trying to find work. On Aug. 16, they had taken Daysia to a different hospital for treatment of mouth sores but no other injuries were seen, Lazar said.
Doctors estimate the baby's injuries to be 10 to 14 days old, indicating they occurred after the Aug. 16 hospital visit.
"No one confessed to anything, but they provided enough information to have the probable cause to charge them in the offense," Lazar said.
Lawrence has had a history with CPS since 2008, when the agency took protective custody of her first child.
"The concern was that she was not bonding well with the baby and didn't seem to have any interest in caring for the baby," said Marissa Gonzales, a CPS spokeswoman. "CPS placed the child with a relative immediately after birth."
When CPS learned that Lawrence had another child, they visited her and the baby in March at a relative's house, where they were living.
"The child was in good health, and she was acting appropriately with her," Gonzales said.
A couple of weeks later, however, CPS received a report of domestic violence between Lawrence and her boyfriend, Gonzales said. When a CPS caseworker went to investigate, she was told Lawrence was gone.
According to court records, Johnson has served time for burglary and cocaine possession. There's a warrant out for Lawrence's arrest in Tarrant County after she failed to show up at a court appearance on a criminal mischief charge.