WOMAN charged in toddler's death faces July preliminary hearing

Thursday, May 31st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (AP) _ A Cherokee County judge has set a July 9 preliminary hearing for a woman charged with killing an 18-month-old child who was under her care.

Sharon Leona Daniels was arraigned Tuesday on a count of first-degree murder in the April 27 death of Charles Crittenden Jr.

According to reports, Charles died at a Tulsa hospital after suffering a head injury in Daniels' rural Tahlequah home. Authorities arrested Daniels, 38, over the weekend after a monthlong investigation by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. She is being held without bail.

An OSBI affidavit quoted Daniels' 14-year-old daughter as saying she witnessed her mother abusing Crittenden one day before his death.

``She observed Sharon Daniels place her hand over Crittenden's mouth and nose until he went limp,'' the affidavit read. The child also said she saw her mother place her hand over the boy's nose and mouth twice before to silence his crying.

Another daughter said her mother admitted injuring Crittenden by shaking him when he would not stop crying, an affidavit said.

Daniels told authorities that the child was injured when a dog knocked the child off a backyard porch, reports said. A state medical examiner's report, however, said the child's injuries were not consistent with such a fall.

If convicted, Daniels could face the death penalty or life in prison with or without parole.