Baby death pursued as homicide

By Karl Terry: PNT managing editor

Law enforcement officials said Wednesday the cause of death of a 9-month-old girl last week was blunt force trauma and the case is now being pursued as a homicide.

At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Roosevelt County Sheriff Darren Hooker said a preliminary report from the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator indicates Kyler Willis died from blunt force trauma injuries to the head. Hooker would not specify the number of blows the child received or whether there were other injuries.

No arrests have been made in the case, according to Hooker. However, interviews have been conducted with several people. He refused to say whether the infants’ parents, Jimmy Willis and Rebecca King, were interviewed.

“I’m not going to give you a time frame now,” Hooker said of the expected length of the investigation. “It will continue until the evidence has all been collected.”

Hooker said the range of charges was still wide open and he did not rule out first-degree murder.

The sheriff said the baby’s parents reside in Roosevelt County and between them had seven children. He said not all those children lived in the household, however. Kyler did live with her parents, according to Hooker.

Hooker said officials from Children, Youth and Families Division have been involved in the case, but he would not say if any of the other children are now in their custody.

“We’re not going to let anybody be at risk that doesn’t have to be,” Hooker said.

Authorities said the infant was found not breathing at a baby sitter’s home Sept. 5 in Portales. The child was taken to a Lubbock hospital, where she died the next day, Hooker said.

The sheriff said other locations in the county have been a part of the investigation. He has not said if the infant’s residence was the location of an investigation.

“Our community is safe and our county is safe,” Hooker said during the news conference.

He urged anyone with information in the case to contact his office at 356-4408.

Calls to Kyler’s parents’ attorney, Randall Harris, were not returned.