HOUSTON—The mother of a 1-year-old girl and a man who babysat the child were both charged after the child was severely burned and bruised while in their care, and neither of them sought medical attention, according to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.
The mother, 25-year-old Elizabeth Mae Pittman was charged with injury to a child by omission and the babysitter, 23-year-old Javier Alejandro Hernandez, was charged with endangering a child.
A day care worker who was keeping the little girl noticed the burns and bruises on her body and asked the grandmother what happened. The grandmother said the child was burned when her mother left her with another babysitter, Hernandez.
The baby was then taken to Texas Children’s Hospital to be checked out.
Doctors found abrasions on the head, right ear and behind the neck of the child and severe burns to the left palm and the arch of the left foot. Doctors said those injuries could not be explained by a single event, but were consistent with child physical abuse. Law enforcement and Children’s Protective Services were notified.
During an interview, Hernandez allegedly admitted to investigators that the baby girl was burned when he was keeping her on November 27. Hernandez left the girl outside with a lit fire pit, but stated he was only gone for a few moments. He said when he returned outside, he saw the toddler throwing one of the hot lava rocks to the ground. He treated her with a burn cream and thought that would be enough.
Hernandez denied causing any of the bruises found on her face and body, but refused to voluntarily submit to a polygraph regarding his truthfulness, according to court documents.
Investigators reviewed photographs on the child’s left hand. They saw no burns to the inside of her fingers, only in the palm area, and concluded there was no way she could have “picked up” the rock, as Hernandez said. Hernandez then told them he could not say for sure if the child handled a hot lava rock or not, but figured she must have stepped on one, investigators said.
Hernandez said he told Pittman her daughter was injured when she came to pick her up, but the mother told a different story. Pittman said Hernandez did not tell her anything about her daughter’s burns.
She said she noticed the child’s hand the next morning when the baby woke up screaming and showed it to her. She did not notice the toddler’s burned foot until she was changing her clothes later that day.
Pittman said when she called Hernandez to ask about the injuries, he told her the child must have touched the hot lava rocks.
The mother said she did not think the burns were bad enough to go to the doctor and decided to treat the baby at home.
When questioned about the bruises on her daughter’s face and body, the mother said the little girl fell head-first down two or three concrete stairs at their apartment complex a few days prior. She did not seek medical attention for that, either, because she had to go to work and her daughter “seemed fine” after the fall, investigators said.
Investigators said Pittman voluntarily submitted to a polygraph examination and passed on the relevant question of whether she caused harm to her little girl.
Pittman’s bail was set at $5,000.
Hernandez’s bail was set at $2,000.