2010-09-10 / Top Stories

Mom Charged With ‘Violently Shaking’ Child

By Howard Schwach

A Far Rockaway mother has been charged with first-degree assault for allegedly violently shaking her seven-month-old daughter and causing her to sustain life-threatening injuries, including brain damage, a spokesperson for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said on Wednesday.

Brown identified the defendant as Nyemah Nickens, 20, of 22-88 Mott Avenue.

Nickens was arraigned on Monday night before Queens Criminal Court Judge Pauline A. Mullings on charges of first-degree assault.

Brown said, “Instead of protecting and nurturing her helpless, innocent child, the defendant is accused of tragically assaulting her.

This case is a grim reminder of the fact that never, under any circumstances, should a baby be shaken.”

According to the charges, Nickens was with her seven-month-old daughter, Nyla Nickens, at her boyfriend’s residence at 119-14 165 Street in South Jamaica, Queens, on the evening of Saturday, September 4, 2010.

It is alleged that the baby was crying inconsolably for more than thirty minutes and that in order to quiet the baby, Nickens picked up her daughter and repeatedly shook her until she stopped crying and appeared to “fall asleep.”

At 5:00 a.m., the next morning, Nickens allegedly heard her daughter make a crying sound. When she checked on the baby, Nickens allegedly observed that her daughter had one-sided stiffness, a swollen eye and was in an abnormal/unresponsive condition. She then allegedly asked her boyfriend’s mother to call for help.

At the hospital, Brown said, an examination revealed that Nyla Nickens suffered a subdural hematoma, widespread brain swelling and retinal hemorrhages. Although the baby underwent a procedure to relieve pressure in her skull, she remains in grave condition and is unlikely to survive her injuries, according to medical personnel.

Given the severity of her injuries, doctors said that the symptoms of brain injury (including lethargy and non-responsiveness) would have occurred immediately, and that her injuries are consistent with the non-accidental trauma of shaken baby syndrome.

Nickens, who faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted, was ordered held without bail and to return to court on September 20, 2010.

The child is in grave condition and if she does not survive the charges will be upgraded.

Brown pointed out that Nickens is the fourth Rockaway parent who has been charged with assaulting a child this year.

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