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Caregiver faces charges in death
In mid-August woman applied for a license to run a day care, now she's in jail

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By Chad Previch Modified: September 8, 2007 at 6:25 am •  Published: September 8, 2007
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WEATHERFORD — An unlicensed home day care operator was charged with first-degree murder after admitting to police she violently threw a 10-month-old boy under her care into a playpen, according to court records.

Lindsay Pope told police she had felt sick and could not stop the baby from crying when she threw him. The pregnant 25-year-old also admitted she initially concealed a bloody playpen from police.

Pope was charged Friday in Custer County District Court with first-degree murder in the death of Luke O'Daniel. She is in the county jail in lieu of $1 million bail.

The home at 400 N Daniel St. was not yet licensed but was allowed to operate under state Department of Human Services rules.

About 3:20 p.m. Wednesday, Pope called police saying Luke was not breathing, according to a probable cause affidavit signed Friday by Weatherford police detective Sgt. Daniel Evans.

Luke was taken to the Weatherford Regional Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

"Anytime a child is involved with a crime it makes it tough on everybody,” District Attorney Dennis Smith said. PDF: Murder charges

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Lindsay Pope According to the affidavit:

•Pope said Wednesday she laid down Luke, who had an ear infection, for a nap about 2 p.m. When she came back, a blanket was over Luke's head. Luke was limp and blue. She then called 911 and started CPR.

• Weatherford police detective Sgt. Daniel Evans was at the scene when an officer called from the hospital to say Luke had died.•On Thursday, Kevin Rowland, chief investigator for the state medical examiner's office, called Evans and told him Luke died from blunt force trauma to the right side of his head. He suffered a depressed, round skull fracture about the size of a quarter. Rowland said there was little hemorrhaging around the fracture, indicating Luke died instantaneously.

•Later that day, Pope was interviewed at the police station by Evans. She denied doing anything wrong. At one point, she was left alone about 45 minutes.

•Evans returned to find Pope writing on a piece of paper. She told Evans she decided to tell him what really happened. She told Evans she was stressed, is pregnant and had bad morning sickness.

•She said she could not get Luke to sleep. She could feel vomit come into her mouth so she threw Luke into the playpen and went into the bathroom. It took her 80 minutes to check on Luke, at which point she found him lifeless.

•When Evans asked her to describe how she threw Luke into the playpen, she put her hands to her chest. "Lindsay then made a motion that I can only describe as her violently forcing Luke into the playpen with a rapid throwing motion,” he noted.

•Evans noted during the interview Pope shed a few tears but showed little emotion.

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