PORT OF SPAIN –– A male relative of 23-month-old Khristha Knutt and her mother are in police custody after the child was electrocuted in what police believe was a botched attempt to resuscitate her.
Police have also arrested two teenagers who were in the house at the time the child was dying.
According to police reports, the child was electrocuted after the relative used live wires to try to resuscitate her, after she was found unresponsive around 2:30 a.m. yesterday. He reportedly cut the wires from a fan and attempted to shock the child. When the child was not revived she was taken to the Port of Spain General Hospital, where she was pronounced dead on arrival.
However, hospital sources said the child’s body was already cold when she was brought in for treatment. The T&T Guardian was informed that were it not for the suspicion of the Casualty Department’s house officer Dr Janet Charles, the baby’s death would not have been fully investigated.
Sources said Charles noticed what appeared to be scratches near the child’s nipples and overheard a mortuary attendant saying that someone had tried to resuscitate her at home. Charles examined the body closer and saw what appeared to be rectangular shaped impressions on the child’s chest. As a result, hospital authorities called in the police and a forensic examination was ordered.
A female relative who spoke with the T&T Guardian at the Forensic Science Centre, St James, yesterday, said the child had the cold and could not breathe properly. She added that little Khristha, who lived with her mother and other relatives at Rock City, Laventille, stopped breathing at some stage and relatives contacted the Emergency Health Services.
The relative said they decided to try the live wires in a bid to revive her and for a period it seemed to be working as the child was momentarily responding. However, the child again fell unconscious.
Speaking with the media, however, the child’s grandmother Marlene Rawlins gave a different version. Although admitting she was not at the house when the child died, Rawlins said for sometime she had a “gut feeling” that something was wrong with the home environment of the child, as little Khristha would always run away from the male relative.
“That man is not the father. He’s been staying there for sometime, but to me the baby always crying and running away from him.
“If the baby afraid [of] you and running from you, then you must see what going on. I wasn’t there, so I don’t know what was going on. The report said it’s like someone hit her like about three times but I don’t know because I wasn’t there, that is what the doctor said. It come like someone murder her,” Rawlins said.
According to the autopsy report, done by forensic pathologist Dr Hughvon Des Vignes, the child died as a result of blunt cranio cerebral trauma and electrocution. Evidence of injuries to three separate places to the child’s head was found. The child’s brain was also swollen and there was also evidence of her choking on food.
“They kill my grandchild, you know. Why you electrocute my child? That’s my granddaughter. I always tell my daughter I don’t want this man in my house because I was always afraid he would abuse her. I got the vibes. She would get vex when I tell her that, but this was what I was telling her,” Rawlins said.
She added: “She with that man only four months now. She barely knows that man but I was praying last night for my granddaughter, and my daughter came and told me what happen. I told them I just hope none of them killed my grandchild.
“I just talked plain. I will never feel good about that. Especially in my house. You see how life is. It’s very sad.”
Rawlins said she used to warn the child’s stepfather about his interactions with her grandchild, telling him that whatever he was doing to make the child be afraid of him was “not good in the eyesight of the Lord”.
“I just sorry for my granddaughter to see she had to go through this,” Rawlins said, adding that now she wanted justice for her grandchild, whom she said was promised to God to be raised by her in accordance with His teachings.
On her Facebook page yesterday, the mother of the child posted pictures of her dead baby and threatened to commit suicide. She was advised against this by her Facebook friends, who all expressed shock at the child’s death and gave words of encouragement to the mother.
Homicide officers are continuing investigations.