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Prosecutor: Abused baby died of traumatic brain injury

Shakayla Sams and Donte Farrier
Posted at 1:56 PM, Jan 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-04 09:19:06-05

CINCINNATI — Two 19-year-old parents were indicted on murder and child abuse charges on Monday in connection with the Dec. 27 death of their 5-month-old baby, and new charges were added for the alleged abuse of the couple's 2-year-old child.

Shakayla Sams and Donte Farrier face two counts of murder, three counts of child endangering and three counts of felonious assault in the death of Casey Sams and the alleged abuse of another child in their care, according to Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters.

On Dec. 22, police responded to a 911 call for a domestic violence incident at an apartment in South Cumminsville. When they arrived, Sams told officers Farrier was punching her face and pulling out her hair, according to court documents.

Officers say that’s when they found 5-month-old Casey Sams unresponsive.

Casey died five days later on Dec. 27.

The Hamilton County coroner's office determined the cause of Casey's death to be a traumatic brain injury.

"It was also determined that Casey had suffered a dislocated neck, subdural hemorrhage and a swollen brain," reads a press release from Deters. "Doctors found additional evidence of abuse, including old and new rib fractures, bruising on top of his scalp and scarring on his leg."

Officers also found the couple's 2-year-old child was severely malnourished with evidence of abuse, Deters said.

The 2-year-old remains hospitalized in the Intensive Care Unit. Court documents showed the 2-year-old had evidence of recent injuries, previous injuries that had healed and had a lacerated pancreas.

If convicted of all charges against them, Sams and Farrier face maximum sentences of life in prison.

"This was not a case of neglect by parents too young to understand their responsibilities," said Deters in a press release. "This was a case of active violence perpetrated on babies by two people, the same people who should be protecting them."

In the Grand Jury indictment, investigators wrote that the children were “recklessly tortured”.

Deters said he has charged the parents with the most severe charges his office believes it can prove, but the investigation is ongoing and there could be additional charges in the future.

Hamilton County Jobs and Family Services will not say if case workers knew about the children before this case turned deadly.

The agency says Deters must answer that.

"Per the prosecutor’s office, any media inquiry regarding this case must be directed to the prosecutor’s office," said Chief Communications Officer Jim Tinker.

Deters' office says since it acts as JFS's attorney, that information is protected by attorney-client privilege.

WCPO 9 has reached out to Hamilton County Juvenile Court to find out if public records exist.

JFS records show eight children died due to substantiated abuse in 2021. Six other child death cases are under investigation. Five of the 14 were open cases at the time of death.