Fort Worth

Fort Worth woman jailed in death of infant son

Blue pinwheels in background were placed at TCU last year to raise awareness of child abuse. Alliance for Children placed a pinwheel for each of the 5,689 victims in Tarrant County.
Blue pinwheels in background were placed at TCU last year to raise awareness of child abuse. Alliance for Children placed a pinwheel for each of the 5,689 victims in Tarrant County. Star-Telegram archives

A Fort Worth woman who first said that her 10-month-old son died last year after falling off a bed is now accused in his death after confessing to investigators.

Shakira Bickerstaff, 23, was arrested Tuesday afternoon in Arlington on a capital murder warrant.

Bickerstaff was arrested days after she admitted to a Fort Worth detective that she shook her infant son, Lamont, hit his head on a table and then covered his mouth to get him to stop crying, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

Bail was set at $1 million.

Emergency crews were called to Bickerstaff’s residence in the 2200 block of Amanda Avenue about 11:30 p.m. Aug. 19, 2014, after Bickerstaff’s boyfriend discovered the baby unresponsive on the couch.

Lamont, who had what appeared to be numerous abrasions, scars and bruising on his body, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Mother’s initial accounts

Bickerstaff initially told police that she had put Lamont on the couch about 8 p.m. after bottle feeding him.

She said she didn’t know how her son died but mentioned that he was always falling off the bed, Detective W.S. Adams wrote in the affidavit.

In an interview two days later, Bickerstaff told Adams that Lamont had fallen off the bed and hit his head earlier in the evening after she went to throw away some diapers.

She said she returned to find him whining with his left arm behind his back. She said he had also been hit in the mouth with a toy.

“Shakira said she didn’t do anything to him, and that she didn’t see the obvious bruising, scratches, and scars on Lamont’s face,” wrote Adams, who works in the Crimes Against Children Unit.

Bickerstaff’s boyfriend told police that he didn’t want to blame Bickerstaff for hurting Lamont but that he had seen her be angry and rough with the boy.

The boyfriend told police that Shakira would complain about Lamont’s crying and how she didn’t want a son and had planned to give him up for adoption when he was born, the affidavit states.

Bickerstaff’s confession

In May, after extensive tests, the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office ruled Lamont’s death a homicide caused by “battered infant syndrome.”

A rare ruling in Tarrant County, “battered infant syndrome” refers to a collection of injuries — old and new — from repeated mistreatment or beatings.

Bickerstaff agreed to be interviewed by Adams again on Oct. 1 to go over Lamont’s injuries, including a fractured skull, bleeding on the brain and bruised face, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit states that Bickerstaff gave varying accounts of what she thought might have happened to her son before she finally confessed.

Bickerstaff told the detective that she had shaken her daughter, 2 at the time, who walked away dizzy.

“Shakira said she thought this was playful, so she shook Lamont in a similar manner while sitting on the couch located in the living room,” Adams wrote.

Shakira said that she shook him harder, and struck the back of his head on the table located in front of the couch.

Detective W.S. Adams, Fort Worth police detective

Bickerstaff said she stopped when Lamont began crying but then began to shake him again.

“Shakira said that she shook him harder, and struck the back of his head on the table located in front of the couch,” Adams wrote.

Asked to demonstrate how hard she hit Lamont’s head on the table, Bickerstaff tried to duplicate the hit using the doll, the affidavit states.

“She hit the doll’s head numerous times on the table, and said that she couldn’t hit the table as hard as she did with Lamont’s head, because the doll was plastic,” Adams wrote.

Bickerstaff told the detective she then lightly patted Lamont’s mouth to try to get him to stop crying.

Confronted with the fact that bruising on the boy’s face would not be caused by light tapping, Bickerstaff acknowledged holding her hand over Lamont’s mouth.

Bickerstaff said that after Lamont began to “drift away,” she laid him on the couch with a pillow on top of his head because he liked it dark.

Asked if she believed she ultimately caused his death, Bickerstaff told the detective she thought that her shaking had killed him.

Other children removed

Child Protective Service documents say Lamont’s half sister, 2, was examined and found to have no injuries.

After Lamont’s death, Bickerstaff agreed to allow the girl to move in with her biological father, court documents state.

Since Lamont’s death, Bickerstaff has given birth to another child, which CPS placed in foster care. A court then placed that child in the care of a relative, a spokeswoman said.

Deanna Boyd: 817-390-7655, @deannaboyd

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