STATESVILLE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) - A Statesville mother is in jail tonight, charged in the murder of her four-month-old son. Deputies believe she was drunk the day her boyfriend found her in bed with their unresponsive infant.
Erika Altamirano was in court today charged with felony second degree murder and felony child abuse.
"Shocked. I was shocked to hear that a baby had died anywhere around here but that the mother had been charged with murder was even more disturbing," neighbor Mary Foster said.
Iredell County Sheriff's Deputies say they were called to Davis Regional Medical Center on June 27 where the infant was brought in unresponsive.
Deputies were told by hospital staff that was child was 'in critical condition,' and a CAT scan revealed that the infant had a serious head injury. The child was then rushed to Brenner's Children's Hospital at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center for further treatment, but the child was pronounced dead on July 4.
The autopsy revealed the child died from blunt force trauma. Deputies say Altamirano was in the hospital when she was arrested. Foster says she also lost a child says she couldn't imagine that guilt.
"It's 16 years later and there's not one day that goes by that he doesn't cross my mind and knowing that I could've been responsible for that I don't know how I would've made it. I don't know how she is."
Detectives spoke with multiple witnesses and family members who said the child's father had come home from work to their house on Holland Drive in Statesville to find their child breathing but unresponsive. The child's mother was asleep in the bed with the baby, he said.
The father told deputies he immediately called for help and took the child to the nearest hospital.
Detectives spoke with Altamirano, who could not explain how the child had been seriously injured.
"A child that's young and defenseless being a victim of a crime when they have to rely on someone to take care of them and the person that you would expect to be the best caretaker is the suspect. It really does have a greater impact than some other crimes," Major Andy Poteat said.
Due to the nature of this case, detectives executed a search warrant of the home where they located an empty liquor bottle in the trash can. They also learned that the child had been in the exclusive care of Altamirano during the day.
Altamirano admitted to detectives to having consumed alcohol during the day, and stated "she could not remember what happened to the child." Detectives learned Altamirano had gone to the ABC Liquor Store earlier during the day where she had purchased alcohol.
"I hope that people that watch this story are able to have a wakeup call about if they're in a situation where they have children, and they're using then there're resources out there get some help," Foster said.
Altamirano was charged on July 16. She had her first court appearance on July 17, and is currently being held at the Iredell County Detention Center under a $500,000 secured bond.