A Chester County woman who had been reported last year for alleged child abuse fought with her 5-year-old daughter last week and pushed her down a steep set of basement steps at their home, fatally injuring the girl, authorities said Monday.
Ciara Michelle Robinson, a home-health aide from Parkesburg, was arrested and charged Thursday with third-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, and involuntary manslaughter. The crimes are related to the death of her daughter, Amatulah "Amy" McLaughlin, on Wednesday from bleeding and swelling to the brain.
Robinson, 25, was additionally charged Monday with aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of a child after authorities saw that McLaughlin's back, arms, and legs were covered with scars, puncture wounds, bruises, and strike marks. Robinson admitted to authorities that she had beaten her daughter for at least a year.
Police were notified of alleged child abuse at Robinson's home last December, when an anonymous caller had reported to Chester County's Department of Children, Youth and Families that Robinson beat McLaughlin for "telling her business," leaving the girl with bruises, authorities said.
But because the report was made anonymously, detectives were unable to interview the person who called. As a result, Robinson was not charged, but after being interviewed by detectives was ordered to take parenting classes, Chester County District Attorney Thomas Hogan said Monday.
On Wednesday, less than a year after being interviewed by detectives, Robinson called 911 about her daughter.
Parkesburg police responded to her call about 9:25 p.m. at her first-floor apartment on Walnut Street, where authorities said the child was in bed, cool to the touch, and without a pulse. Robinson, police noted in their report, was distraught and repeatedly said she "should not have gotten mad" and "not have pushed her."
The child was pronounced dead at the home. Investigators said she died from blunt force trauma to the head.
Authorities have since removed from Robinson's custody her other child, a 2-year-old boy, who was unharmed.
In an interview with police, Robinson admitted that she had yelled at her daughter and had hit her on the arms, legs, and torso as she threatened to send the child down to the dark basement with "the boogeyman."
Robinson, however, later denied that she had pushed her daughter down the carpet-covered wooden steps. She said the child, who was scared, accidentally fell down the stairs and hit her head on the concrete landing. Robinson said that she then carried her daughter from the basement landing to the top of the stairs and that the child eventually got up and went to bed.
Robinson said she later found her child unresponsive but tried to revive her by splashing her face with cold water, at the advice of a friend she had frantically called.
"I knocked Amy out," Robinson said to the friend, according to a criminal complaint. "I'm going to jail. She won't wake up."
Robinson is now in the Chester County Prison. She is not eligible for bail.
The Chester County District Attorney's Office said the investigation is ongoing. People with information are asked to call Parkesburg Detective Ryan Murtagh at 610-857-3535 or Chester County Detective Jerry Davis at 610-344-6866.