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Local News

Police: Baby beaten by mom dies after taken off life support

Shanquilla S. Garvey
Shanquilla S. Garvey

JOLIET – An 8-month-old baby girl with skull fractures and other injuries died Christmas Eve after she was taken off life support, police said on Tuesday, and now prosecutors plan to charge the little girl’s mother with murder.

Cherish Freeman was pronounced dead about 10 p.m. Sunday.

Freeman’s mother, Shanquilla S. Garvey, 24, has been in custody at the Will County jail since she was charged with beating her daughter Wednesday.

Garvey was charged with the aggravated battery of a child, but prosecutors now plan to file a murder case against her.

“There is the intent to file upgraded charges tomorrow,” Cheri Johnson of the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office said Monday afternoon.

The charges will be upgraded to murder, Johnson said.

About 12:30 p.m. that day, the cops reportedly were called to a room at the Bel-Air Motel, at 1103 Plainfield Road, where Garvey, Cherish and two more of Garvey’s five children were living, police said. Officers were sent to investigate a report of a child who had stopped breathing, Deputy Police Chief Al Roechner said.

Cherish was taken from the motel room to Presence St. Joseph Medical Center, and from there was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, said Roechner, who on Thursday described the child’s condition as “extremely critical” and said she suffered two skull fractures.

In addition to the skull fractures, the baby had suffered bleeding on her brain, a cut liver and a fractured clavicle, said Assistant State’s Attorney Chris Messina, who also said that some of the injuries appeared to be from earlier incidents.

Less than three hours later, Garvey was arrested and jailed.

After Garvey’s arrest, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services took custody of the two girls who were with her at the Bel-Air when the police arrived, Roechner said, adding that they were to be examined to see if they also had suffered any injuries.

Police and prosecutors provided no information on the whereabouts of Garvey’s two other children.

Garvey appeared in court Thursday afternoon via video broadcast from jail. She spent most of the hearing crying and at one point said, “I’m sorry.” The public defender assigned to her case warned Garvey that she was being recorded and should stop talking.

Messina said during the hearing that there was considerable doubt that the child would survive the beating and asked Will County Judge Art Smigielski to set Garvey’s bond at $5 million.

Smigielski ordered Garvey held without bond.

“This baby was beaten, kicked and thrown against a dresser,” Smigielski said. “No bond.”

No one from the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office could be immediately reached for comment on the status of Garvey’s criminal case.

Garvey said she had been living in Joliet for two years before her arrest. Court records show she previously lived in Chicago.

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office listed a last known address for Cherish in Bellwood.

In 2012, when she was 18, Garvey was charged with possessing stolen checks. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 12 months’ conditional discharge, according to court records.

The year before, according to court records, she was found guilty of theft and fined $300.

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