Published: November 8, 2013
A Colorado Springs woman was sentenced Friday to six years in prison for failing to get help after her husband inflicted fatal injuries on their 2-month-old daughter.
In sentencing 21-year-old Lakeria Shazarae Grant, 4th Judicial District Judge Robin Chittum said Grant should have recognized that Harmone'e Elam had been gravely injured in December 2012 based on the infant's symptoms, which included sleepiness, vomiting, shallow breathing, moaning and other signs of distress.
"There wasn't just a red flag," Chittum told the woman. "There was a red flag, flashing lights and sirens going that you should have taken the baby to the hospital."
Prosecutors say the child was severely beaten by Grant's husband, then-Fort Carson soldier Roderick Elam, apparently during a period when Grant was away from their Colorado Springs apartment laundering Elam's uniform.
Instead of promptly getting her medical attention, the couple instead bathed the child and waited some six hours to summon help.
By then, the infant was not breathing. An autopsy later found Harmone'e had suffered severe brain injuries and a lacerated liver.
Elam, who was convicted at a January trial of causing the injuries, was sentenced that month to serve 32 years in prison, court records show.
Grant's penalty was imposed after a nearly three-hour long hearing in which attorneys clashed over whether Grant understood the severity of her daughter's condition.
Her attorney, Shimon Kohn, argued the woman suffers from "an intellectual deficit" and was likely beaten by Elam, whom he described as a "huckster" who wed Grant at a young age after falsely claiming to be a Baptist minister like her father.
Prosecutor Gail Warkentin countered that even as Grant showed little emotion over her daughter's death, she lashed out in defense of Elam after prosecutors filed charges against him. The woman refused to cooperate with the prosecution, and was eventually charged after prosecutors concluded that early medical intervention might have saved the child's life.
"You put this little baby behind Mr. Elam over and over and over again," Chittum said. "That's the part that frightens me about this."
While on bail prior to his conviction, Elam ignored court orders confining him to Fort Carson and returned to his wife's apartment.
Although he was away without leave from Fort Carson, the Army failed to notify prosecutors for approximately a month, The Gazette reported last year.
During that period, Elam and Grant conceived a second child. That girl, Melody, is in the care of Grant's parents, prosecutors said.