TAMPA — He said the toddler slipped in the bathtub.
Police, though, said Deandre Gilmore, 31, beat his girlfriend’s child to death last week while babysitting the 1½-year-old girl. On Monday, police arrested Gilmore and charged him with first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse.
“It’s very, very painful to believe that this child could die at the hands of this person,” said Tampa police Major Mary O’Connor, who is in charge of the police department’s criminal investigations division. “The terror she must have felt in her final moments is unimaginable.”
Gilmore called 911 just before 7:30 p.m. Wednesday to report that his girlfriend’s daughter, Mayla Pressley, was unconscious.
The child was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital, where she died.
Gilmore, 31, told investigators the child slipped and fell in the bathtub. But the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office reported in its autopsy that the child suffered “blunt force trauma” on several areas of her upper body, O’Connor said.
“He’s not telling us that this was anything other than an accident at this time, but based on the medical examiner’s review, it was not accidental,” O’Connor said. “The injuries that the medical examiner found were not consistent with his version of events.’’
Gilmore babysits Mayla when his girlfriend, Nayashia Williams, who is the child’s mother, is working at her fulltime job. Williams was at work on Wednesday at the time of the incident and has no connection to her daughter’s death, O’Connor said.
Gilmore, who had no prior child abuse arrest, was living with Williams and her daughter at their Sulphur Springs home at 8123 N. Marks St.
Williams, 25, is cooperating with investigators. She thinks her child’s death was an accident, O’Connor said. On Friday, Williams was arrested in Hillsborough County Circuit Court for domestic battery after she struck her mother, said Laura McElroy, a Tampa police spokeswoman. Williams was in court on Friday in a child custody case involving her 5-year-old child that is cared for by another family member.
Police issued a warrant for Gilmore’s arrest on Thursday. Gilmore was supposed to turn himself in to authorities on Thursday but didn’t. During the weekend, the U.S. Marshal’s Office and police detectives were in frequent contact with him and his family, and Gilmore turned himself in on Monday.