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Local News

Murder case filed against mom charged with breaking baby’s skull

Shanquilla Shantell Garvey
Shanquilla Shantell Garvey

JOLIET – A Joliet mom jailed last week for allegedly breaking her baby’s skull in two places was charged with murder Wednesday after the child’s death.

The murder charge was filed against 24-year-old Shanquilla Shantell Garvey three days after police said her 8-month-old baby Cherish Freeman was taken off life support and died.

Garvey was staying at the Bel-Air Motel on Plainfield Road with Cherish and two of her four other children when the baby stopped breathing and police were called, Joliet Deputy Police Chief Al Roechner said last week.

Cherish was taken from the Bel-Air Motel room to Presence St. Joseph Medical Center, and from there was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, said Roechner, who last week 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.

After Cherish was hospitalized, officers brought Garvey and the two other daughters they found in the Bel-Air Motel room to the police department for questioning, Roechner said.

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 last week 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.”

Cherish was taken off life support and died at the hospital about 10 p.m. Christmas Eve, Joliet Deputy Chief Ed Gregory said.

Cherish’s last known address was on Linden Avenue in Bellwood, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office. Court records show Justin Freeman, who lives on Linden Avenue, acknowledged paternity of Garvey’s child in August.

Freeman failed to respond to voice mail messages left at his listed phone number. A Saturday post on Justin Freeman’s Facebook page said, “Right now my pain runs deeper then the ocean.”

Garvey was scheduled to return to court Jan. 12.

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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