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Lancaster woman who injured infant she was babysitting will serve up to 10 years in state prison

Kayla Tucker, 34, must also pay more than $300,000 in restitution, prosecutors said. She admitted to shaking the baby, causing life-threatening injuries, in 2021.
Credit: Lancaster Police
Kayla Tucker

LANCASTER, Pa. — A Lancaster woman will serve up to 10 years in prison for assaulting a three-month-old infant she was babysitting in 2021.

Kayla Tucker, 34, pleaded guilty in October 2022 to three felony counts of aggravated assault and a felony count of endangering the welfare of children. She was sentenced Wednesday to a prison term of 4½  to 10 years and ordered to pay $305,812.94 in restitution, according to the Lancaster County District Attorney's Office.

Assistant District Attorney Fritz Haverstick prosecuted the case but left his comments brief during the sentencing proceeding before Lancaster County Judge Merrill Spahn. 

“I think it’s more important that you hear from the parents of this little guy rather than the assigned Assistant District Attorney,” Haverstick told the judge. 

Both parents spoke about how they thought they could trust Tucker to be the caregiver of their newly born child while they worked. They also spoke about the intensive rehabilitation and lasting medical issues their son will face and the hardships it has caused their family. 

“Justice for your son would be going back in time and making sure this never occurred,” Spahn said. “What you have lived is a parent’s worst nightmare.” 

Tucker and the defense counsel spoke and listed the defendant’s remorse, cooperation with law enforcement, taking responsibility through pleading guilty, and her amenability to rehabilitation as reasons to order a mitigated sentence. 

“There is a child who will have injuries he’ll have to deal with for the rest of his life due to your conduct alone,” Spahn said to Tucker before ordering a sentence. 

Spahn also ordered a provision preventing Tucker from having contact with any of the victims. 

According to Lancaster Police, officers were dispatched to Tucker's North Plum Street home on August 30, 2021, at 11:20 a.m. for the report of a baby who was barely conscious and having difficulties breathing.

The child was transported to a local hospital, and after life-threatening injuries were assessed, was taken by helicopter to a second hospital in critical condition. 

Lancaster County Bureau of Police Detective Jessica Higgins investigated and filed charges that Tucker shook the baby, causing a subdural hemorrhage in the brain and other injuries.

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