Last year, 24 year old Leah Walden smothered 8-month-old Reese Bowman at Rocket Tiers Learning Center. Since the tragedy, the school has closed permanently, the family has continued to grieve and Walden has been sentenced to 70 years in prison for premeditated murder in the first degree.
Walden admitted she willfully and deliberately killed baby Reese. According to court docs and surveillance footage from the daycare, Walden returned from lunch to Rocket Tiers Learning Center and found baby Reese awake from her nap. She slapped the girl in the crib and pinned her down with one arm while the helpless baby kicked her legs. Walden then snatched her from the crib and pushed her back down, before she piled blankets over the baby’s face suffocating her to death.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Assistant State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess said Walden told a co-worker, “Girl, I’m frustrated…I’m sick of this little b**ch. I hate this little b**ch…She makes me want to punch her in the face.”
In the courtroom, Bowman’s sister spoke on her behalf explaining that Leah was not an evil person, but she was just frustrated. Leah told the judge herself that she had no training or help at the daycare center and apologized for her actions.
Most of the courtroom was in tears, including the judge Althea Handy, who said, “I’m just reflecting on everything I heard. There are tears everywhere in this courtroom.” She spoke to Walden, saying, “You thought about it, even though it might have been brief. Do you understand that?” Walden replied, “Yes,” in tears.
Baby Reese’s father, Justin Bowman, said in court, “I will never see my girl take her first steps, hold her, kiss her, comfort her when she’s scared, hear her say ‘I love you.’ I am devastated.” Visibly shaking and distraught he told the court that him and his wife Amy moved to #Baltimore to start their family and Reese was only their 2nd child but the first girl born into the Bowman family in 40 years. Both of their children, Reese and her older brother Sawyer attended Rocket Tiers and her brother was upstairs when the incident happened.
He also said since his daughter’s death, the couple sold their house, left their jobs and moved away from Baltimore because it was all too much to live around constant reminders. He said he cries at the sight of another father holding a little girl.
According to the Baltimore Sun, Judge Handy sentenced Walden to life in prison with any time past 70 years suspended, which means she won’t get out until she’s in her 90s, if she serves the full sentence. Walden will be eligible for parole when she is 59 years old.