Office of the State's Attorney for Baltimore City

For Immediate Release 3/6/2017

South Baltimore —William D. Watson, 51, pleaded guilty to child abuse resulting in death and was sentenced to 25 years in prison, suspend all but 18 years. Upon his release, he will serve three years on probation and will be prohibited from any unsupervised contact with children under the age of 18.

Special Victims Unit Division Chief Anne Colt Leitess prosecuted the case.

On May 4, 2016, Watson left his one-month-old daughter unattended in her baby bathtub just three days after she had been released from the hospital where she was recovering from Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome,. The baby was scalded by hot water that later testing revealed could reach 154 degrees Fahrenheit in under 30 seconds. Despite observing the severe burns suffered by the baby, Watson did not seek medical assistance for more than three hours—doing so only after the baby started losing consciousness. 

Baltimore City Firefighters and Paramedics responded and attempted to revive the victim; however, she died shortly after arriving at the hospital. The Office of the Medical Examiner ruled that the infant’s death was a homicide as a result of her caregiver refusing to obtain medical care for her while she was critically injured from 2nd and 3rd degree burns all over her body.

“It is unimaginable that a caregiver would refuse to take a helpless infant to the hospital who was suffering the pain and injury that infant must have endured,” Leitess said. “Had she gone to the hospital, she would have had a chance to live and recover from her injuries. But instead, the defendant selfishly thought of himself and sacrificed the life of this precious baby.”

Through their investigation, Homicide detectives learned that Watson feared the baby and his young daughter would be removed from his care as a result of the incident and did not want the baby to go to the same hospital from which she had just been discharged.

“As a mother of two and the chief prosecutor of this city, the nature in which this innocent child lost her life is unfathomable,” said Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby. “Now, this defendant will spend what would have been his deceased daughter’s entire childhood in prison.”