Competency exam ordered for Ionia babysitter charged with fracturing baby's skull

Psychiatric exam for woman in child abuse case

IONIA, MICH. - A court hearing for an Ionia County babysitter accused of fracturing the skull of an 8-month-old boy has been indefinitely delayed pending completion of a competency exam.

Autumn Skuse is charged with first-degree child abuse for critically injuring the child, whom she said fell and struck his head on the floor in early August.

She was to appear in Ionia District Court this week for a preliminary exam to hear evidence against her, but a judge granted a delay for forensic testing. Her attorney requested the evaluation to determine if Skuse understands the charges against her and can assist in her own defense.

Competency exams can take weeks or months to complete; no new hearing date has been set. Skuse, 30, remains in the Ionia County Jail on a $50,000 bond.

Police say the boy, Thomas Pierson, suffered a fractured skull and bleeding on the brain while in Skuse’s care at a home on North Jackson Street.

The Ionia Department of Public Safety began investigating after Skuse called 911 on Aug. 4 to report the child had fallen and struck his head on a hardwood floor.

Hospital staff reported numerous injuries, including three skull fractures that were inconsistent with a fall. The child also suffered broken ribs that were in the process of healing as well as a broken leg.

In an earlier interview, Rachel Pierson, the baby's mother, says Skuse was recommended for babysitting services and was interviewed twice before being hired.

A few days after the child was hospitalized, Pierson said Skuse contacted her and admitted to hurting the child.

"She says she snapped and dropped him,’’ Pierson said. "She said he was supposed to land on a pillow. Obviously he didn't.  She said she was abused herself as a child and she's going to the mental health hospital."

Skuse was arrested Aug. 8. The child has since returned home with his parents.

(© 2016 WZZM)


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