By Joe Johnson
A Superior Court grand jury recently charged an Athens woman with felony murder for the death of her baby daughter four months ago.
Edna Carolyn Bailey, 25, of Norwood Circle was charged with murder and cruelty to children, both in the second degree, according to the indictment that was filed on Oct. 31.
Josie Marie Lester was six months old when she died between the night of July 5 and afternoon of July 6 while left alone for 15 hours in a makeshift bed comprised of an open suitcase with heavy blankets that would later tragically cover her head, court documents say.
Bailey was charged with child cruelty because Josie suffered “cruel and excessive physical and mental pain” from having been left alone for an extended of time without anyone checking on her, the indictment alleges.
A police incident report notes that the infant was wearing Mickey Mouse pajamas when Bailey laid her down to sleep between 9 and 9:30 p.m. on July 5, and when her mother woke up at about noon the next day Josie was on her back and not breathing, with her eyes open and foam around her mouth.
Bailey told officers that she began CPR on Josie, then phoned the child’s father and called 911, according to the police report, which indicates that the woman initially told the officers that she had placed her child on its side in a crib, with no blankets that she recalled.
An autopsy was subsequently conducted at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s State Crime Lab.
Though police charged Bailey with the single offense of child cruelty, the grand jury charged her with the additional offense of murder that was presented by the District Attorney's Office.
Under Georgia state law, a person commits the offense of murder in the second degree when “in the commission of cruelty to children in the second degree, he or she causes the death of another human being irrespective of malice.”
If convicted, Bailey could face a prison sentence of between 10 and 30 years.
Police arrested her on a warrant they served on Aug. 1 and she was released from jail the following day upon posting a $5,700 bond.
A date for an arraignment on the indicted charges was not indicated in court records.