Mother's Charges Could Upgrade From Child Abuse To Murder Monday

The Pitt County Medical Examiner's Office says a baby's death has been ruled a homicide.

Dakota Etheridge died Monday after the father of the baby took him off life support. The baby had been on a ventilator for the past three months at Pitt County Memorial Hospital.

The Medical Examiner's Office says the baby died from non-accidental head trauma. The baby's mother, Sandy Etheridge, was charged back in April with felony child abuse inflicting serious injury. At the time the baby was just 10 weeks old.

Pitt County Chief Deputy James Tripp says they'll use the information from the autopsy and go before a grand jury on Monday to have the charges against Etheridge upgraded.

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A baby who deputies say was violently shaken at just 10 weeks old had died.

The Pitt County Medical Examiner's Officer confirmed to WITN News that Dakota Etheridge died Monday at Pitt County Memorial Hospital.

The baby, according to deputies, was injured back in March when his mother shook the child so violently that he suffered brain injuries.

At the time Sandy Etheridge was charged with felony child abuse inflicting serious injury. Chief James Tripp says they will have to wait on an autopsy report before commenting whether charges against the mother would be changed.

An autopsy on the baby is scheduled for Wednesday. Authorities say Etheridge has four other children that have been taken away by the Department of Social Services.

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  • by lee on Jun 27, 2010 at 09:32 AM
    David Whitehurst what is your problem? Do you want to end up in jail? people can not come up here and make threats against this woman and think they want end up in jail.Remember no one knows but god who did this for sure.So keep your crazy input to yourself
  • by friend Location: north carolina on Jun 17, 2010 at 01:48 PM
    you people do not know sandy so who are you to judge someone, we belive she did not do this, so look at other people in the home before you say any thing everyone needed to be invesigated first that stayed there .
  • by Crushed Location: Hertford on Jun 14, 2010 at 09:12 PM
    I am sadden and full of grief for this little angel. I have to think, what role did Social Services play in this. There was 4 red flags up for Social Services to moniter this woman closely. She had 4 other children taken away from her by Social Services and put in foster care. What in this world made Social Services think that she could or would take care of this tiny baby. This baby should have been immediately put into foster care with the mother having monitered visitations like she had with her other children. I would like to see a full investigation of Pitt County Social Services on this one. The System surely failed!! This one should have never happened!!
  • by Jeff on Jun 14, 2010 at 06:05 AM
    Furious, to get charges with 1st degree murder you have to have both premeditation and motive. I agree this is a sickening thing and she should be punished to the fullest extent. I have a 16 month old son and could not see how anyone can hurt a kid. They are definatley little angels. My prayers are for the baby. Its so unfair that the child didnt have a fair chance at life. I hope she gets at least life without parole.
  • by David Whitehurst Location: Greenville on Jun 14, 2010 at 04:24 AM
    I agree with Anonymous Location: Winterville on Jun 10, 2010 at 11:59 PM. This woman should suffer on her way. Make me sick every time I see her picture and the story. I'll build a adult sized paint shaker if I get some help.
  • by RT Location: Gvegas on Jun 14, 2010 at 03:22 AM
    This child is in Heaven, his mother most likely won't get there.
  • by Anonymous Location: Winterville on Jun 10, 2010 at 08:59 PM
    My message is to the mother of this precious child: God blessed you with the privelege of being this child's mother. This child, defenseless and innocent, suffered for 3 months and lost his life at the hands of the one person he should've been safest with. The person who should've loved him more than anything else in the world. Words can't describe my anger knowing this poor baby couldn't defend himself.....and even more to know he needed to be protected from his own mother! With that being said, you deserve to suffer a slow and painful death, since that's what you gave your son.
  • by kelly Location: wilson on Jun 10, 2010 at 06:54 AM
    maybe when she is sentenced to life in prison, maybe someone will shake her to death.
  • by Fiona Location: California on Jun 10, 2010 at 06:49 AM
    TO ANGEL EYES: If the father was not in jail maybe he would have been an involoved parent and this could have been prevented. Some of the focus should be put on him for being a irresponsible "parent".
  • by Angel Eyes Location: eastern nc on Jun 9, 2010 at 08:22 PM
    You watch to see if she don't try to use the ole "post-partum depression" as her defense. I guess she's had it four other times! The father was in jail when she harmed the baby, so, let's not lose sight of that, or try to smoke screen and put the focus on him. He has his own cross to bare. Drugs seems like it was in the picture?

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